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U.S. DOT approves saliva-based drug testing

The U.S. Department of Transportation is making some changes to transportation workplace drug and alcohol testing programs – most notably adding another option when it comes to the sample collection process.

In a final rule set to publish to the Federal Register May 2, the agency will announce an amendment to its drug testing program that will allow for the inclusion of oral fluid testing. According to the U.S. DOT, the additional testing method will “give employers a choice that will help combat employee cheating on urine drug tests and provide a less intrusive means of achieving the safety goals of the program.”

According to the U.S. DOT, the final rule is not intended to replace current collection methods but simply to add to the choices employers and drivers have when taking an agency-issued test.

The U.S. DOT says the reason for the addition can help serve two purposes. First, adding oral fluid collection gives individuals greater flexibility to choose the testing method. This can be especially helpful when certain medical conditions make providing a urine sample problematic. Additionally, individuals can weigh the costs associated with each type of test prior to choosing a collection method, which could help drivers save money.

The second reason for the inclusion of oral fluid testing is privacy. In some instances, U.S. DOT drug tests will need to be directly observed to confirm the accuracy of the specimen. In those cases, the agency says that oral fluid testing is an ideal alternative.

The rule will go into effect 30 days after it is published. Prior to the rule becoming effective, the U.S Department of Health and Human Services will need to certify laboratories to conduct oral fluid testing. At this time, the agency is yet to certify any labs for the oral fluid collection method.



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