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An Evaluation of Innovative Sweat-Based Drug Testing Techniques for Use in Criminal Justice Drug Testing



Alim A. Fatah, Royer F. Cook, David C. Dove, Dennis J. Crouch, Jakub Baudys


Drug testing is widely used throughout the criminal justice system. Currently, most drug testing is based on urine analysis. Although recent alternative drug testing techniques such as hair analysis and on-site kits have become available, laboratory-based urinalysis remains the "standard" by which other methods are assessed. However, despite its advantages, urine testing involves collection methods that are invasive and which typically require burdensome facilities and procedures. For this reason, the Law Enforcement and Corrections Advisory Council made it a priority for the criminal justice community, the development of noninvasive methods of drug collection and analysis. In response to this need, the Office of Law Enforcement Standards at NIST initiated a study of "sweat testing" as an alternative to urinalysis. Sweat or more accurately "Liquid Perspiration" (LP) is harvested from perspiration that accumulates on skin. Different absorbent materials have been used for collection. Sweat collection devices have been cleared for clinical applications and for drugs of abuse testing. The current study has demonstrated that 1) liquid perspiration can be harvested, using a LP collection device; 2) the collector can be used in a noninvasive, totally observed process; 3) the volume of LP collected and the cost of the collection device remain a limiting issue; 4) LP may be preferable to urine for collection for the detection of drugs used by arrestees; and 5) for cocaine and opiates, LP collection is 2 to 3 times more sensitive than urinalysis.
NIJ Report or NIST Interagency Report


collection device, detection, drugs, liquid perspiration, sweat, abuse


Fatah, A. , Cook, R. , Dove, D. , Crouch, D. and Baudys, J. (2004), An Evaluation of Innovative Sweat-Based Drug Testing Techniques for Use in Criminal Justice Drug Testing, NIJ Report or NIST Interagency Report (Accessed April 20, 2024)
Created August 1, 2004, Updated October 12, 2021