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Definition - What does Adulterate mean?

Adulterate is a verb that refers to the act of modifying or altering a substance. A substance that has been adulterated has been made impure through the addition of extraneous ingredients. More specifically, a substance is adulterated through the addition of unwanted or inferior ingredients.

In the context of drug testing, an adulterated sample is one that has been altered as to render it unsuitable for testing. An adulterated sample may show the presence of drugs at a lower than actual level or mask the presence of a targeted drug altogether. Common methods of adulteration include adding a foreign substance to mask the presence or dilute the concentration of a drug or drug metabolite in a sample.

When drug testing is conducted pursuant to the guidelines set forth by the Department of Transportation, a specimen validity test is conducted to assess whether or not a sample has been adulterated or is otherwise inadequate for testing. If adulteration is detected by validity testing, the results of the drug test will be classified as an "invalid result."

SureHire explains Adulterate

In drug testing, the term adulterate refers to an action taken to alter a test specimen. An individual may attempt to adulterate their test sample before submitting it for analysis to prevent the detection his or her drug use. There are several different methods that may be used in an attempt to alter a test sample. The methods chosen will depend on the type of drug test being performed and the drug use that the individual is attempting to hide.

For example, some substances are believed adulterate an oral fluid sample by masking the presence of alcohol when ingested or used as a mouth rinse. However, the effectiveness of these substances is quite short lived if they work at all.

Individuals sometimes attempt to adulterate urine test samples by drinking large amounts of water in hopes of diluting the sample. Others add ingredients directly to the sample that are intended to chemically alter the urine, thereby masking the presence of the targeted drug. Finally, some individuals attempt to replace their samples with a synthetic substitute.

Drug validity testing combined with proper collection procedures and chain of custody observances are designed to thwart these adulteration efforts.

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