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In the realm of drug testing for CDL drivers or employees working in safety-sensitive positions, an unexpected question arises: can being in the presence of secondhand smoke put your job or reputation at risk by causing a failed drug test? The answer is not straightforward and has been a topic of debate for many years. However, recent findings have shed new light on the issue.

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DOT-covered safety-sensitive positions

What happens if you fail a DOT test?

What is Second-hand Smoke?

Secondhand smoke, also known as passive smoke or environmental tobacco smoke, refers to the smoke emitted from a burning tobacco product (such as a cigarette, cigar, or pipe) and exhaled by the smoker.

2nd hand smoke: Why it’s not Enough to Cause a Failed Drug Test

When someone inhales passive smoke, they are exposed to a lower drug concentration than an active smoker who directly inhales the smoke. This is because the marijuana is partially burned and filtered out by the smoker's lungs, reducing the level of THC, the psychoactive component in marijuana in the smoke exhaled into the air. Learn more: Difference between THC and CBD

According to a study published in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, passive smoke exposure to marijuana is unlikely to result in positive drug test results at commonly observed levels. The study involved a group of non-smokers who were exposed to high levels of marijuana smoke in a well-ventilated environment for up to four hours. Despite this exposure, none of the participants tested positive for THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana, at levels that would have resulted in a positive drug test.

Similarly, another study found that non-smokers who were exposed to passive smoking for three hours in an unventilated room did not show detectable levels of THC in their urine or hair samples.

While these studies provide evidence that it is unlikely for sidestream smoke to result in positive drug tests, it is important to note that the level of exposure and ventilation can have an impact on the results. In addition, different types of drug tests can have varying levels of sensitivity, which can affect the outcome to some extent.

Bottom Line

While the risk of secondhand smoke causing a failed drug test appears to be low, it remains essential for individuals in safety-sensitive positions to be aware of their surroundings and take precautions to minimize exposure. Nevertheless, further research and ongoing discussions are necessary to fully understand the relationship between secondhand smoke and drug test outcomes. This will help establish comprehensive guidelines and protocols for drug testing, providing clarity and maintaining the integrity of testing procedures for the employees.

The ongoing need for safe and productive workplaces is not only crucial for employers but employees as well. We provide free online consultations to our clients to help them with the drug-free program they need. With over 20,000 testing locations goMDnow as your third-party administrator provides affordable, reliable, and rapid drug and alcohol testing services. See our pricing and order a drug test today to step ahead toward a drug-free journey.

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