FAQ - cotinine (nicotine) testing

1. Why test for cotinine and not nicotine?

Cotinine is the first-stage metabolite of nicotine. Because the window of detection for nicotine is relatively short (approximately 2 hours), cotinine extends the
window of detection for several days and is the preferred method of screening for tobacco u

2. Will a second-hand smoke exposure produce a positive result?

No. In numerous studies, cotinine detection levels have been examined across specimen types and exposure rates for passive exposure. Cotinine tests
have been clinically designed to accommodate for the minute traces commonly found from second-hand exposure when compared to levels found in
smokers. The cutoff value of these tests are set to properly distinguish passive exposure from true smokers.

3. Can the cotinine level be used to determine the type and amount of tobacco used?

No. While it’s true that the more a person smokes, the higher the cotinine level is likely to be, a number of contributing factors influence testing outcomes
such as:
• Size of the individual
• Percentage of body fat present
• Rate of metabolism
• Hydration state of the individual
• Type of cigarette/cigar/pipe smoke or tobacco chewed
• Smoking style
• Elapsed time from smoking to testing
• The pH of the urine (if urine testing is conducted)

4. What practices or other substances may be used that could generate a positive cotinine test result?

Certain cultures found in India or Asia are known to chew and ingest betelnuts. The preparation of this product is commonly mixed with tobacco producing a
positive cotinine test result. Additionally, certain vegetables contain small concentrations of nicotine like eggplant or tomatoes. Only copious amounts
consumed could trigger a cotinine positive test result. Finally, cotinine may also be found amongst tobacco workers who strip the tobacco leaves from their
stalks. Absorption through the skin can produce a positive result even if the worker does not in fact smoke. There are a few other examples where a positive
result may occur from a non-smoker but theses circumstances are very rare. Investigation of the individual’s lifestyle or occupation typically uncovers these

5. How is the sample collected?

The donor collects his or her own sample under direct visual supervision. The “collector” really is an observer and not in the “chain-of-custody” – the process
most often legally challenged. If the donor wants to challenge the collection, the only person to challenge is the donor themself. The entire process can be
completed anytime – anywhere and takes just minutes to administer.

6. What is the stability of the sample and how is it shipped?

Specimens stored in the Oral Fluid Specimen Vial may be kept at 39ºF to 98ºF for up to 21 days (including the time for shipping and testing). Shipping of the
specimen is generally done via overnight courier.

7. How is the sample analyzed?

Oral fluid samples are screened in a certified laboratory using enzyme immunoassay technology (EIA), proven reliable for routine cotinine testing. Studies
have shown that there is good agreement between test results and confirmation testing by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS or GC/MS/MS).

8. What is the detection window for oral fluid?

Just like traditional urine drug testing, the window in oral fluid testing is similar for cotinine, however, oral fluid screening identifies recent usage that can be
missed by urine testing. Oral fluid samples provide a close match to drug levels in blood, identifying donors that are under the influence at the time the
sample is collected. Since our testing system detects the nicotine metabolite, the window of detection in oral fluid starts almost immediately after tobacco
use and can last up to about three days.

9. Can oral fluid be adulterated?

A wide range of compounds and techniques available today have been studied and none have been identified that could alter the results of the test.
Furthermore, the risk of the donor introducing any compound into the vial is highly unlikely since every collection is directly and easily observed. These facts
will cut all costs associated with adulterant and dilution testing common with urine analysis.

10. What are the economic advantages of using oral fluid?

Oral fluid drug testing, with its “anywhere / anytime” collection process, results in significantly lower costs associated with collections, scheduling fees, and
lost time on the job. Oral fluid collections reduce the labor costs for gender-specific collectors and shy-bladder syndrome (can’t go), and eliminate dilution
testing – all of which contribute to the higher costs of urine testing.

11. How soon can you expect your results?

The lab receives samples via overnight courier. Testing is performed the day samples arrive and positive or negative results are reported within 24 hours.
Should confirmation testing be required, an additional 24 to 48 hours should be expected.

12. Is oral fluid a biohazard?

No. OSHA does not consider oral fluid collection hazardous. In addition, oral fluid specimens are not subject to the same handling and disposal procedures
that are issues with other bodily fluids.
faq - cotinine (nicotine) testing
Copyright Master Security, Inc. 2017 All rights reserved
Master Security, Inc.
Celebrating 20 years of Providing a
Higher Standard of Protection. 1997 ~ 2017
26 S. Market Street
Girard, Ohio 44420
Copyright Master Security, Inc. 2017 All rights reserved
26 S. Market Street Girard, Ohio 44420 ~ Phone: 330-545-4448  Fax: 330-545-4449 ~ info@mastersecurityinc.com