Oral Fluid and Saliva Drug Testing

Oral Fluid and Saliva Drug Testing

While lab-based oral fluid drug testing is not the gold standard that urine testing is, it can be the best choice in certain situations for companies to do mouth swab drug tests.  Lab-based oral fluid testing is easily administered and supervisors can be trained for testing employees working in remote locations where access to a fixed collection site may be challenging.

We understand choosing a method for workplace testing can be overwhelming. We recommend asking a few questions, evaluating the options, and setting a standard high enough for it to be trusted now and in the future.

The most important goal of workplace drug testing in Canada is to manage risk and improve safety, and achieving this requires testing technology that verifiably produces fair and reliable results for actionable and accurate risk identification.

Lab-based oral fluid testing may be required to meet conditions of ratified agreements in post-accident and reasonable cause scenarios. In eliminating shy bladder situations, oral fluid drug testing can be an effective matrix for random testing programs as well.

Laboratory-Based Oral Fluid Testing

All CannAmm fluid testing which includes cannabis detection in saliva is lab-based to give you accurate saliva sample results that you can depend on to detect drugs and action reliably if needed. The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has recommended cut-off levels for oral fluid but no laboratories currently have Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) certification for this technology. The Canadian Model recognizes oral fluid testing for reasonable cause and post-incident testing and has adopted the SAMHSA recommended cut-off levels.

The Only Trusted Standard In Workplace Testing Applications

For an employer to take action on a test result, the result needs to be reliable. For workplace testing, this means the result must be forensic, or legally defensible. Establishing legal defensibility is no small task:

  • Following this standard ensures accurate, fair and legally defensible testing which is able to properly identify risk.
  • If the standard is not followed, a test result could be disputed in court, lead to other legal repercussions, or worse, a serious incident could occur at the workplace.

Instant Oral Fluid Testing

Currently, there are no instant saliva testing products that have FDA approval that also test to approved cut-off levels. FDA approval requires minimum precision and accuracy standards, so this raises a real question of accuracy when it comes to saliva drug screening in these devices.

Due to a very high risk of inaccuracy, particularly for cannabis (the most common drug of abuse in Canada), we do not offer this technology at this time, but we do understand that instant drug tests using saliva might suit your specific business need to use an oral swab for THC. A key caution: Should you choose a drug test through saliva, it is critical to get laboratory confirmation of all samples, regardless of the initial result.

Drug testing is like any other safety tool. Looking for conformance with an established standard is as important when choosing testing options as it is when choosing personal protective equipment. Just as the Canadian Standards Association’s green triangle on the steel-toe boots of your workforce confirms a class one toe cap and puncture-resistant sole, the DHHS is the proven standard in testing methods. Laboratory-based urine testing and laboratory-based mouth swab drug tests are the only test methods recognized under the current standards.

The major concern with commercially available instant oral fluid devices is they are designed to test for much higher concentrations of certain drugs; as a result, they fail to identify some risks. In addition to not testing to the recommended cut-off levels, instant oral fluid technology has not been able to test with 100% accuracy at concentrations 25% below or above the cut-off levels.

Download the “Truth About Instant Oral Fluid Testing” Whitepaper.

What makes a testing application trustworthy?

  • It produces fair and reliable results that can be acted upon with confidence;
  • The saliva swab tests to a defensible standard as outlined by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS);
  • This standard has been adopted by the Construction Owners Association of Alberta (COAA) and is recognized as the only acceptable standard regulated in North American workplace drug testing programs. 
  • Available instant oral fluid testing devices are not able to detect all the positive results that would be identified in a laboratory-based test using the standards set by the DHHS.

Choosing an instant oral fluid testing device could potentially have a negative impact on workplace safety, and could result in non-compliance with the testing standards set in contractual obligations.

For Canadian workplace testing programs, instant oral fluid testing raises two major concerns:

  • Many employers are unaware that the cut-off levels of instant test devices are far from recommended levels.
  • The need for further investigation into outstanding questions about the technology.

We recommend setting a standard high enough that it can be trusted now and in the future. We understand that this can sometimes be challenging operationally, but using a superior testing option mitigates the safety risk and liability that a false negative result poses on the job. Laboratory-based urine and oral testing at the recommended cut-offs is the most
accepted and defensible standard.

When you need oral fluid drug testing, choose CannAmm.

  • Experienced and knowledgeable staff help you decide if and when drug or alcohol testing is right for your company.
  • We offer mouth swab drug tests for cannabis (THC).
  • We have the fastest drug screening turnaround times for laboratory-based testing in the industry.

Contact us to inquire about oral fluid/saliva drug testing.