Questions and Answers

Q: Is it necessary to use a morning urine?
A: No. The test can use a urine sample collected at any time of the day.

Q: How long should you wait after exposure to perform the test?
A: If the exposure is only for a short period of time, you should wait about 2 hours before testing to allow time for the nicotine to metabolize into cotinine.

Q: What does a variation in the intensity of the color of the result signify?
A: The colors may vary from pale pink to reddish, but this is not significant.

Q: What if the results are not clear to me?
A: If no reddish lines appear, the test has not been used according to the instructions. Repeat with a new test following the instructions carefully.

Q: Do medications influence the result?
A: Except for nicotine medications such as a patch or nicotine gum, medicines do not usually have an effect on the result.

Q: What does a negative result mean?
A: A negative result (“0”) means that you have no or very little second hand smoke exposure in the past 2 to 3 days. It also means that you have not used a tobacco product in the past 2 to 3 days.

Q: What does a positive result mean?
A: A positive result (“1” or higher) means that you have been exposed to second hand smoke in the past 2 to 3 days if you are a non-user of tobacco products. A positive result can also be caused by use of tobacco products such as cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, etc., or nicotine medications such as a patch or nicotine gum or lozenge. A positive result of “3” or higher indicates that you are very likely a smoker or user of tobacco or nicotine products.

Q: Are there any medications or foods, etc. that can cause the test to be positive even when there is no second hand smoke exposure (this is called a “false positive”)?
A: The test can be positive if you are a smoker, if you chew tobacco, or if you use a nicotine patch or nicotine gum.

Q: How do I collect a sample from a child who is still in diapers?
A: Place some cotton balls  in with a fresh diaper and squeeze them out later into the collection cup.

Q: What is the lowest amount of second hand smoke exposure that the test can detect?
A: The test can detect as little as 6 nanograms per mL of cotinine (a nanogram is one billionth of a gram, a mL is one fifth of a teaspoon). The amount of exposure you have will vary depending on the amount of smoke in the air and other factors. The test can be positive if you have been in a tobacco smoke environment for a little as an hour in the past 2 to 3 days.

Q: Are there other tests available like this?
A: Currently there are no other similar reliable quantitative tests for tobacco product exposure (without sending samples to a slow, costly specialized reference laboratory).

Q: What is the equivalent number of cigarettes per day (cpd) to the cotinine level?
A: The cpd level is a poor measure of nicotine intake, which is why the test is so valuable. Different smokers use different brands, inhale differently and smoke varying amounts of the cigarette.