A dilute specimen is a urine sample that has higher water content than the average specimen, which minimizes the drug levels visible in the urine. Sometimes dilution is intentional, but it can happen accidentally as well. If the drug levels do not reach a certain cut-off point established by the laboratory, the specimen will not be marked positive for the drug even if it is detected. Below we explore what causes diluted drug test results and how you can prevent specimens from being diluted.
Diluted Drug Test Results
What Causes a Diluted Drug Test Specimen?
Most diluted drug test results are produced unintentionally by the participant. This can occur when an applicant consumes an excessive amount of fluid, diluting the concentration of urine in the sample. However, it is also possible for specimens to be diluted on purpose by someone who hopes to cheat the test and hide their drug use. The participant could (1) intentionally ingest lots of fluid or (2) pour fluid directly into their urine sample. Both techniques will lower drug ratios in the urine, and the laboratory will detect the diluted drug test results. Neither technique guarantees a negative result.
How Do Laboratories Detect Diluted Drug Test Results?
To identify diluted urine, laboratories look at several parameters, including the levels of creatinine in the sample. Creatinine is a compound produced when an individual metabolizes creatine. Laboratories flag samples that have unusually high (more than 5mg/dL) or strangely low (less than 20 g/dL) creatinine levels. It is a myth that cheating participants can raise their creatinine levels by taking creatine or eating red meat to evade detection.
Labs can also identify diluted drug test results by measuring the specific gravity of the specimen. If it is less than 1.0010 or greater than 1.0200, it is marked dilute.
Why Are Diluted Drug Test Results Such a Problem?
Diluted drug test results make it difficult to determine if the participant is using drugs, as they may provide inconclusive results. There are two types of dilute specimens: positive and negative. With a positive diluted drug test, the laboratory picks up the presence of an illegal substance despite its dilution. Whether intentional or accidental, the dilution didn’t hide the drug levels. Negative diluted drug test results are another story.
With a negative diluted test result, it is unknown whether the person had any drugs in their system because there are two possible conclusions. First, the participant may be drug-free but simply consume a lot of fluids. Second, the participant may engage in drug use but successfully disguise this through dilution. For this reason, an employer should not consider a negative diluted drug test result grounds for rejecting a job applicant or firing an employee. Instead, they should schedule a second drug test and do their best to prevent dilution the second time around.
How Can You Prevent Dilution When Drug Testing?
To prevent both accidental and intentional dilution of drug test results, employers, participants, and testing centers are encouraged to use the following tips:
- Schedule random drug testing so that participants cannot plan to dilute their sample beforehand.
- Participants are encouraged not to drink more than one full glass of water (or any other fluid) prior to testing and to avoid diuretics (such as coffee, green tea, and black tea).
- Drug tests should be scheduled in the morning, when urine is more likely to be concentrated.
- The testing site should add dye to the toilet water and turn off the faucets to prevent the participant from diluting the specimen with water.
- Do not allow participants to bring personal items into the testing site, as they might attempt to sneak in water to dilute their sample.
If you’re looking for a drug testing company that can help you understand the drug testing process and prevent diluted specimens, contact Tomo Drug Testing. We can help you further explore your options so that you can select a testing methodology that reflects your wants, your needs, your concerns, and your budget. With our corporate office based in Springfield, Missouri, we offer customized solutions to make drug testing simple, and our nationwide network of clinics and providers allows Tomo Drug Testing to be available anytime, anywhere. For a free needs analysis, give us a call today at 888-379-7697 or contact us online. We would be happy to help!