How To Read Temperature Strip On Drug Test?

How To Read Temperature Strip On Drug Test?


The integrity of the collected urine sample is vital for drug testing in order to get accurate results. It has become a standard practice to check for the temperature of the provided urine sample to ascertain its validity.

After collecting the urine sample, the temperature must be read within four to five minutes and the readings should be anywhere between 90 and 100 degree Fahrenheit (32 to 38 degree Celsius). If the temperature is outside of this range, then the urine sample provided may be subjected to dilution, adulteration or substitution.

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Table of Contents

  1. How To Read Temperature Strip On Drug Test
  2. What is a Temperature Strip?
  3. How Does Temperature Strip Work?
  4. How To Read Temperature Strip On Drug Test?
  5. Adherence to Guidelines
  6. Importance of Urine’s Temperature
  7. Bottom Line

What is a Temperature Strip?

A temperature strip is a type of thermometer that consists of liquid crystals in a plastic strip, which is heat sensitive and changes color to suggest different temperatures. The liquid crystals have mechanical properties of liquid and optical properties of a single crystal. The color of the liquid crystal varies in accordance with the change in temperature. This mechanism makes it useful for measuring temperature. The liquid crystal sensors have a resolution of 0.1 degree Celsius range.

The liquid crystal temperature labels are available in different shapes and sizes to suit any requirement as well as yield real-time temperatures. These thin, flexible, printed temperature indicators have adhesive or magnetic supports that can be easily attached to any source unlike the conventional thermometers. The liquid crystal thermometers are quite reliable and accurate. Due to its quality, efficiency and suitability, these printed labels are used in pharmaceutical and industrial sectors, drug testing, medical devices, aquarium, forehead, etc.

There are disposable liquid crystal temperature strips that can be used for medical and home purposes. There are several types of simple temperature indicating labels that are cost effective and follow SAMHSA Guidelines. These labels can determine if the temperature of the freshly voided specimen is within the range.

How Does Temperature Strip Work?

The self-adhesive labels comprises of a series of elements that are sensitive to heat and cold. These elements contain Thermochromic Liquid Crystal (TLC) that are microencapsulated and coated on a black backing. As the heat flows, the color on each element changes distinctly and these strips are calibrated to indicate the actual temperature.

The elements that contain TLC molecules are very sensitive to temperature and change status when there is a variation in the temperature. A change in the color occurs when the molecular structure changes causing the liquid crystals to absorb visible light and reflect. As the temperature decreases, the molecules change in the reverse direction and reflect another portion of the spectrum.

How To Read Temperature Strip On Drug Test?

There are many varieties of drug testing cups available in the market. Some drug testing cups have in-built temperature strip and some don’t. There are self-adhesive temperature strips available in the market that can be affixed to any specimen collection containers. These strips have dual scales; hence, temperature can be read in Celsius and Fahrenheit.

Once the urine specimen is collected in the drug testing cup, reading the temperature strip within four to five minutes is very crucial. The color Green indicates the urine specimen temperature to be within the range for testing (normal being between 32-38 °C/90-100 °F). If there is no change in color, it means the urine sample is adulterated or the urine temperature is below or above the normal range.

If the urine sample temperature isn’t within the range, then the sample will be deemed inappropriate for testing and discarded. The donor will be asked to provide a fresh urine sample after waiting for sometime.

Adherence to Guidelines

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Center for Substance Abuse Prevention have listed a number of guidelines to ensure the samples are collected in a proper manner and are consistent as per forensic prerequisites. These guidelines are provided in detail in their Urine Specimen Collection Handbook. It also specifies the importance of maintaining temperature controls and the association between storing collection devices and monitoring samples as they are collected.

There are mandatory guidelines specified for Federal Workplace Drug Testing where they have to follow a specific protocol while screening urine samples for possible substitution or tampering. The main prerequisite as per the SAMHSA Guidelines is to measure urine temperature immediately after sample collection.

Importance of Urine’s Temperature

At the collection site, the collector will ask the candidate to provide adequate amounts of urine specimen and to return the collection cup as soon as possible after voiding. It is also important to tell the candidates that the urine temperature plays a vital role in the validity of the specimen.

Once the donor gives the specimen to the collector, the temperature and the sample volume must be checked within four to five minutes. Temperature can be checked by reading the strip affixed on the collection container. A freshly voided urine will have a temperature between 90 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

If the temperature is above or below the standard range, the specimen is considered to be adulterated, substituted or diluted. In this case, the candidate is asked to provide a fresh sample after waiting for some time and both samples are sent to the laboratory. If there is no temperature registered on the strip, the specimen can be checked by transferring the contents into a new collection container.

Of utmost significance is that the testing devices must be maintained at room temperature as well as the collected samples. The temperature should be maintained even while shipping and storing or else the results may become inaccurate. Temperature labels that change color when temperature varies can be used to ensure the appropriateness of storage conditions. The collector must ensure that the collected specimens are sent to the laboratory as quickly as possible.

Screening drugs using immunoassay and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) makes it less possible for errors.

Bottom Line

Temperature of the urine specimen is considered to be very vital in drug testing. It helps in determining the integrity of the specimen.

Self-adhesive temperature strips are affixed to specimen containers to validate the specimen. After collecting the urine specimen, the temperature strip should be read within four or five minutes.

The temperature indicating labels are cost effective and follow SAMHSA guidelines. If the temperature of the urine sample is out of range, then the sample will be deemed inappropriate for testing.

The collector marks “Yes” on the CCF form if the temperature is within the range of 90 to 100 ºF. If the temperature falls outside the acceptable range, it is marked “No” and a fresh specimen is collected under strict supervision with a new collection kit.

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