Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Justice. 2014 Jan;54(1):57-60. doi: 10.1016/j.scijus.2013.09.007. Epub 2013 Oct 17.

Exhaled breath for drugs of abuse testing - evaluation in criminal justice settings.

Author information

Department of Medicine, Section of Clinical Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. Electronic address:


Exhaled breath is being developed as a possible specimen for drug testing based on the collection of aerosol particles originating from the lung fluid. The present study was aimed to evaluate the applicability of exhaled breath for drugs of abuse testing in criminal justice settings. Particles in exhaled breath were collected with a new device in parallel with routine urine testing in two Swedish prisons, comprising both genders. Urine screening was performed according to established routines either by dipstick or by immunochemical methods at the Forensic Chemistry Laboratory and confirmations were with mass spectrometry methods. A total of 247 parallel samples were studied. Analysis of exhaled breath samples was done with a sensitive mass spectrometric method and identifications were made according to forensic standards. In addition tested subjects and personnel were asked to fill in a questionnaire concerning their views about drug testing. In 212 cases both the urine and breath testing were negative, and in 22 cases both urine and breath were positive. Out of 6 cases where breath was negative and urine positive 4 concerned THC. Out of 7 cases where, breath was positive and urine negative 6 concerned amphetamine. Detected substances in breath comprised: amphetamine, methamphetamine, THC, methylphenidate, buprenorphine, 6-acetylmorphine, cocaine, benzoylecgonine, diazepam and tramadol. Both the prison inmates and staff members reported breath testing to be preferable due to practical considerations. The results of this study documented that drug testing using exhaled breath provided as many positives as urine testing despite an expected shorter detection window, and that the breath sampling procedure was well accepted and provided practical benefits reported both by the prison inmates and testing personnel.


Abused drugs; Criminal justice; Drug testing; Exhaled breath; Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center