To view the Fingernail Testing Panels and Collection Instructions, click here.
USDTL Fingernail Test In the News
Quantity Not Sufficient 11-Nov-2016
Hard Evidence 03-Aug-2015
Nailing Drug & Alcohol Testing 03-Aug-2015
A Moment In Time 02-Feb-2015
The Long Game 02-Feb-2015
Testing Nails for Drugs 01-Oct-2012
USDTL Fingernail Research
Fingernail Poster Presentations
Monitoring Daily Low Dose Oxycodone In Nail Clippings Liquid Chromatography Tandem Mass Spectrometry: Case Study
Fingernail Slide Presentations
THC in Hair
Fingernail Drug Testing For Alcohol And Substances of Abuse
To help you have the best possible solutions that science can offer, we are consistently evaluating our processes to keep them ahead of the curve. As science progresses, so do our capabilities. Because of such progress, we have some important updates to the fingernail collection process.
Effective July 18, 2016, USDTL will be implementing a new way of reporting quantitative results. In order to satisfy accreditation requirement, the concentrations of drugs exceeding the Upper Limit of Quantification (ULOQ) for any given drug will be reported as > ULOQ (greater than ULOQ). The ULOQ will be provided.
Quantity Not Sufficient (QNS) is a result of not having a sufficient quantity (volume) of
specimen to test for the panels ordered. The amount of specimen required for collection
is directly related to the amount of specimen needed to screen and confirm for the panels we offer. The initial screening uses a portion of the original specimen and the confirmation testing uses another portion of the original specimen. To forensically confirm positives, means running a new test, with a new portion of the original specimen, using a different analytical technique.
We are proud to announce that we are the first laboratory in the world to be ISO/IEC 17025 accredited for drug and alcohol testing in umbilical cord, fingernail, and toenail specimens. On September 4, 2015, USDTL attained ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation showing full compliance with the international testing standards. We have received our accreditation from ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board, demonstrating technical competence in the field of forensic testing. The scope of our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation encompasses all specimen types and methods of analysis utilized in our laboratory.
It is our first priority to deliver testing results that provide the most valuable information possible for your substance abuse testing needs. To better accomplish this duty to our clients, we are updating our policy concerning specimens that do not have sufficient volume for both preliminary testing and confirmation. Effective April 1, 2015, confirmatory tests that cannot be completed due to insufficient specimen volume will be canceled on an individual drug class and/or analyte basis. We will report confirmation results for each test for which there is sufficient volume of specimen available, giving you access to more information.
It is USDTL's mission to use the best science available to provide cutting edge tools for the detection of alcohol and substances of abuse. To better accomplish our mission, we are updating our collection procedures for fingernail specimens. Effective March 1, 2015, cosmetic treatments of any kind must be removed from fingernail specimens prior to being submitted to USDTL for testing. Specimens received with cosmetic treatments still applied to them will be rejected and will not be processed. Cosmetic treatments include artificial acrylic, gel or silk overlays; nail polish; basecoats; topcoats; hardeners; and any application to the nail that is not the natural nail material. When removing fingernail polish prior to collection, a non-ethanol based polish remover should be used.
Des Plaines, IL - United States Drug Testing Laboratory, Inc. (USDTL), a forensic laboratory specializing in drug and alcohol testing using advanced specimens, has released a new assay to detect zolpidem (Ambien®) use in fingernail and hair specimens. Previously available only in urine and oral-fluid specimens, zolpidem testing in fingernails and hair offers forensic drug testing professionals new, powerful tools to meet their drug testing needs.
*Click the green and white plus sign beside each question to view the answer.
Can a nail test be used to prove that a previously taken hair test was inaccurate?
Can someone test positive in fingernail because of passive or environmental exposure?
Yes, environmental exposure versus ingestion must be resolved when interpreting drug tests using fingernails.
How do drugs get into nails?
How much fingernail needs to be collected?
If the quantity of drug or alcohol metabolite detected is high, could that be an indication that the donor (1) was consuming a large amount, (2) was using recently, or (3) was using frequently?
There are too many variables for anyone to know time of use, dosage, or frequency from the result(s) of a drug test. Reservoir matrices such as hair, fingernail, umbilical cord, and meconium continuously collect drug and alcohol biomarkers. This makes it difficult to determine specific details of use. Because the biomarker is collected over a period of time, the results represent total accumulation that cannot be pin-pointed to specific times/dates/dosages, etc.
Q: Why are both ethyl sulfate (EtS) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) included in urine testing for alcohol use, but only EtG in fingernail or hair testing?
A: For urine testing, it is standard practice in the field of toxicology to include both EtS and EtG, because EtG is subject to bacterial production and degradation if a urine sample is contaminated (e.g. when the donor has a urinary tract infection). EtS is not subject to bacterial production or degradation, and provides a second, more reliable alcohol biomarker in these urine contamination scenarios. Other specimens types, such as fingernails and hair, do not have this issue, so only EtG is measured in those sample types.
Why was one matrix positive and another negative on the same donor?
There are several explanations for this.
- Different sample matrices have different detection time frames. The result of any second collected specimen has no bearing on the validity of a first collected specimen. For example, a hair sample with a three month window of detection might test positive for a particular substance, while a urine sample from the same donor, with a 2-3 day window of detection, might test negative. In this case, the donor has used that substance within the past three months, but may not have used it within the most recent three days.
- The result of any second collected specimen has no bearing on the validity of a first collected specimen. Therefore, a negative result observed for the umbilical cord does not refute a positive result observed on the maternal urine specimen and the reverse is true as well. There are many legitimate reasons for discrepant urine and umbilical cord results.
- The urine specimen was a screen only result and was not confirmed using an appropriate mass spectrometric method. The screen only urine result is a clinically valid result, however, without an appropriate mass spectrometric confirmation, the urine result has no value in a forensic proceeding.
- Lastly, some placentas can prevent some compounds from reaching the fetus. There are documented cases of maternal ingestion without in utero exposure.
Will one-time drug use be detected in Fingernail Testing? How many times would they have to use drugs for it to be detected in nails?