Our partners use two different drug checking technologies to test the components in your drug samples: Fourier-Transform Infrared spectrometer (FTIR) and test strips. Some locations use a combination of FTIR and test strips and others use only test strips. Check out our Drug Checking Sites page for details.

For more information about why we use these two technologies, refer to our Drug Checking Evidence Report

Fourier-Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR)
FTIR spectrometers are a well-known technique for chemical analysis and are commonly used in forensic chemistry and the pharmaceutical industry. It can determine up to five components in your sample, including cuts or buffs that have been added to your drugs. The detection limit of the FTIR is about 5%, which means that substances that are in trace amounts may not be detected. For this reason, we pair the FTIR analysis with fentanyl and other test strips. FTIR spectroscopy works by shining light at a sample and measuring how that light is absorbed. Drugs and cutting agents have unique absorption patterns that are then identifiable by a trained technician. It is important to remember though, that there are drugs that can be toxic well below the 5% detection limit.

Fentanyl Test Strips
Fentanyl immunoassay strips (test strips) are used to determine the presence or absence of fentanyl in a sample of drugs. The fentanyl test strips are very sensitive to fentanyl and some additional fentanyl analogues. Fentanyl test strips cannot tell you how much (quantity) of fentanyl or some analogues are in your drugs and may not be able to detect all fentanyl analogues.

Benzodiazepine Test Strips
Benzo test strips are used to determine the presence of benzodiazepines in a sample of drugs. The benzo test strips are sensitive to a variety of benzo analogues. Like the fentanyl test strips, they cannot tell you the quantity of benzos in a sample and have been known to have a faint line so may need more time to develop.

Copyright © 2020, British Columbia Centre on Substance Use

400-1045 Howe St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2A9

E: [email protected] | T: (778) 945-7616 | F: (604) 428-5183