Two words you are likely to run into a lot when discussing drug testing are immunoassay and chromatography. But, what do they mean and how do they relate to drug testing?
Immunoassays are antibodies that specifically bind to drugs and their metabolites in urine and other bodily fluids. Metabolites, by the way, are the chemical compounds that result after the human body has metabolized a drug. So, if a person smokes marijuana, for example, his body metabolizes the drug, which leaves behind the tell-tale compounds in his urine, blood, sweat, hair, etc. When he takes a drug test and his urine is mixed with a reagent (something that is added to the urine to bring about a chemical reaction) the reagent reacts with the metabolites in his urine and tells the tester that he has smoked marijuana.
When you purchase an instant drug testing cup or a drug testing strip or cassette from TestCountry, they are all immunoassay type tests. They are typically inexpensive, quick and provide accurate results if done properly.
Gas chromatography (and mass spectrometry, another phrase you’ll hear often in terms of drug testing) are analytical techniques used in laboratory settings and that need laboratory equipment to be performed.
Chromatography and spectrometry testing can distinguish a specific drug from other substances that have similar chemical properties (like prescription medication). With this technique, technicians are able to identify and determine the quantity of atoms, isotopes and the chemical composition of a sample because the samples various components are separated from each other.
Gas chromatography and mass spectrometry can determine the presence of drugs and other substances and are often used to confirm the positive results from immunoassay drug tests. When you make an appointment through TestCountry for a laboratory drug test, these are generally the techniques that will be used on samples taken.
So now you know the difference between immunoassay and chromatography/spectrometry testing.