If not for a tip from a friend, Raymond Steinhart never would have visited the Web site pass yourdrugtest.com.
But once he located the URL, he found a surprise: The name of his injection molding company, Mastermolding Inc., was on an alphabetical list of businesses that have substance-abuse testing programs. The site, among hundreds of similar ones on the Internet, sells the latest in adulterants to ingest or substitute for urine samples in an effort to beat a drug test.
Mastermolding started a program in 1999 to help correct some substance abuse problems, said Steinhart, president of the Joliet, Ill.-based firm. While its program has helped to clean up the workplace, Mastermolding also found a few suspected cheaters. One worker appeared to add formaldehyde to his urine sample to avoid a positive test, Steinhart said.
``He was peeing hydrochloric acid,'' Steinhart said. ``No way was that a correct sample.''
Medical clinics working with Mastermolding and other processors have to stay a step ahead of the cheaters.
Certified lab group Quest Diagnostics Inc. of Teterboro, N.J., has said some cheaters have tried adding lemonade or Mountain Dew to samples. Several processors also claimed that employees would bring pure urine samples from family or friends to work in a condom. They would conceal it on their bodies and try to substitute it during testing while behind a closed bathroom door.
The temperature of the sample gave those cheaters away.
Rotational molder Spin-cast Plastics Inc. once heard back from its testing lab that a sample was too cold. Apparently, an employee had carried a vial in his pocket for hours before the test, said general manager Eric Strom.
``It happens a lot,'' Strom said. ``We catch people who say they aren't on drugs. A lot of times, the sample comes back too dilute because they drank a ton of water before the test.''
Other employees claim that herbal health pills, cold medications or a poppy-seed bagel eaten that morning threw off the results. In the case of poppy seeds on a bagel, they do contain a substance that could show up as cocaine or morphine on a test, said Barry Sample, Quest's director of science and technology for corporate health and welfare.
Still, medical review officers at labs know to look for those altered substances, Sample said. Few get away with cheating, no matter what new product is touted on a Web site to beat the positive test, he said.
Sometimes, the test result is so pure that it is suspicious, he said.
``There aren't many medically justified reasons why a urine specimen should be loaded with purity,'' Sample said. ``An invalid test result will raise suspicions as much as a positive one.''
But labs, and the processors that use them, must be eternally vigilant for new masking agents that fog results, Steinhart said.
``It's like antivirus computer software,'' he said. ``You have to keep updating it.''