Forensic Drug Testing Lab

Hair Drug Testing

Recently, hair testing has come to be seen as a powerful tool for the detection of drug and alcohol abuse. Hair provides a long-term history of drug and alcohol abuse by trapping biomarkers in the fibers of the growing hair strand. When collected close to the scalp, hair can provide up to a 3 month history of alcohol and drug abuse. Drug and alcohol biomarkers can appear in scalp hair 1-7 days after the last use. Hair offers a sample that is simple to collect, somewhat difficult to adulterate, and easy to ship. A 1.5 inch sample of about 200 strands of hair (about the size of a #2 pencil) closest to the scalp will give 100 mg of hair, the ideal sample for screening and confirmation. We recommend weighing the specimen on a jeweler's scale. If scalp hair is not available, an equal amount of body hair may be collected.

Click here to view our hair collection instruction slides.

Click here to download the fingernail and hair drug panels.

Drug Panels

  • 17 Panel
  • 16 Panel
  • 15 Panel
  • 14 Panel
  • 12 Panel
  • 10 Panel
Amphetamines
amphetamine, MDA, MDEA, MDMA, methamphetamine
Cannabinoids
carboxy-THC
Cocaine
benzoylecgonine, cocaethylene, cocaine, norcocaine
Opiates
6-MAM, codeine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, oxymorphone, oxycodone
Phencyclidine
phencyclindine (PCP)
Benzodiazepines
alprazolam, diazepam, midazolam, nordiazepam, oxazepam, temazepam
Barbiturates
amobarbital, butalbital, pentobarbital, phenobarbital, secobarbital
Methadone
EDDP, methadone
Propoxyphene
propoxyphene, norpropoxyphene
Oxycodone
oxycodone, oxymorphone
Meperidine
normeperidine
Tramadol
tramadol
Fentanyl
norfentanyl
Sufentanil
norsufentanil
Ketamine
ketamine, norketamine
Buprenorphine
buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine
Zolpidem
zolpidem (e.g. Ambien®)
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*Click the green and white plus sign beside each drug class to view the substances within each class.
Add-Ons Available
Buprenorphine
buprenorphine, norbuprenorphine
Diphenhydramine
High-Potency Opioids (HPOs)
6-β-Naltrexol (naltrexone metabolite), butorphanol (e.g. Stadol®), nalbuphine (e.g. Nubain®), naloxone (e.g. Narcan®), naltrexone (e.g. Revia®)
EtG (Direct Ethanol Biomarker)
ethyl glucuronide
Propofol Glucuronide
propofol glucuronide (e.g. Diprivan®)
Zolpidem
zolpidem (e.g. Ambien®), zolpidem phenyl-4-carboxylic acid
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Collection

Collection Instructions
Collection Steps
Prior to each collection
Prior to each collection, place the scissors, clips, and comb in a 70% or a 91% isopropyl alcohol solution for 10 minutes. Do not use an ethyl-based alcohol solution.
Examine the donor’s hair
Examine the donor’s hair prior to beginning the collection. Check that the donor’s hair is not chemically treated or synthetic.
Verify the donor’s identity
Verify the donor’s identity with a government-issued photo ID.
On the Custody and Control Form do the following
On the Custody and Control Form do the following: A. Once verified, mark the Picture ID Verified box on the Custody and Control Form. B. Record the donor’s ID number. This may be the Social Security number, Driver’s License number, Medical Record number, Employee number or any other number of your facilities choosing. C. Record the donor’s name (optional). D. Mark the specimen matrix and location. E. Mark the appropriate reason for testing. F. Mark the panel ordered for this collection. G. Record the Collection Site Facility information if it is different than the Account Information at the top of the form.
Open the collection supplies
Open the collection supplies in the presence of the donor.
Fold each side of the collection foil up to form a tray
Fold each side of the collection foil up to form a tray and open the envelope so the printed ruler is visible.
Clipping the hair
Clipping the hair: The ideal site for collection is at the top of the back of the head, called the crown or vertex area. Collector should use gloves throughout the collection. For Hair Longer than 1.5 inches: A. Isolate a section of hair above the area to be sampled, and secure it with a hair clip. Using a rat-tail comb, select a section of hair to be clipped with cutting shears at scalp level. If the client has thin hair, multiple sites may be used. B. Clip the hair and place it on the envelope near the printed ruler with the root end to the left. Using the ruler, cut the hair to 1.5 inches in length, keeping the 1.5 inches closest to the root end. Discard the rest of the hair. Place the hair in the foil tray. Continue collection until you have 100mg of specimen. For Hair Shorter than 1.5 inches: C. Collect smaller amounts of hair from multiple sites around the head. Place the hair in the foil tray. Continue collection until you have 100mg of specimen.
Fold the foil inward several times
Once the required amount of specimen has been collected, fold the foil inward several times to secure the hair inside the foil and place it inside the collection envelope. Note: Body hair is an acceptable alternative when scalp hair is not available. The same instructions apply to collecting body hair. Clip as close to the root as safely possible and place in the foil tray. Once 100mg is collected, fold the foil inward to secure the hair inside the foil. DO NOT mix body hair and head hair.
Write the Donor ID
Write the Donor ID from the Custody and Control Form on the envelope in the Test Subject ID section.
Place the long bar-coded specimen seal
Place the long bar-coded specimen seal from the Custody and Control form across the bottom of the envelope. Make sure the sticker seals the flap of the envelope securely.
Have the donor read and initial
Have the donor read and initial the first sentence on the envelope, and then date and initial the bar-coded specimen seal next to Subject Initials.
The collector should then read, date, and sign
The collector should then read, date, and sign the second sentence of the envelope, and record the specimen weight, if available.
The donor and collector should both confirm
The donor and collector should both confirm that the Test Subject ID Number on the envelope matches the Donor ID number on the Custody and Control Form, and that the Control Number from the bar-coded sticker on the envelope matches the Control Number at the top of the Custody and Control Form.
Date, sign, and print
Date, sign, and print the collector name on Step 4 of the Custody and Control Form.
Have the donor date, sign, and print
Have the donor date, sign, and print their name on Step 5 of the Custody and Control Form (optional).
In the presence of the donor, place the top copy
In the presence of the donor, place the top copy of the Custody and Control Form inside the outer pocket of the security bag. Place the specimen envelope inside the inner pocket of the security bag and seal the bag. The additional copies of the Custody and Control Form can be distributed at the discretion of the collecting facility.
Place the specimen envelope in an appropriate courier transport overwrap
Place the specimen envelope in an appropriate courier transport overwrap and contact your courier for pick-up.
Client Services

By Phone: 1.800.235.2367

Business Hours (CST)

Monday 6am - 8pm
Tuesday 6am - 8pm
Wednesday 6am - 8pm
Thursday 6am - 8pm
Friday 6am - 8pm

Contact Client Services

Testing Details

Panel Name: HairTesting

Panel Description: Hair Testing Drug Panel

Type: Profile

Matrix: Hair

Collection Container: Foil in Secure Envelope

Sample Amount: 100 mg = 200 strands @ 1.5 inches     (We recommend weighing the specimen on a jeweler's scale.)

Storage Conditions: Room Temperature

Transport Conditions: Ambient

Method: Initial screening test with confirmation of presumptive positives

Turn-Around Time: 1 day for negatives / 2-3 days for positives

  • References
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Can a hair test be manipulated by the donor?

Yes. Bleaching, perming, dyeing and straightening can affect the outcome of a hair test. Cosmetically treated hair should not be collected.

Can a hair test be used to prove that a previously taken urine test was inaccurate?

No. The results of any second collected specimen have absolutely no bearing on the validity of the results of the first collected specimen. Furthermore, each matrix has its own advantages, disadvantages and limits of interpretation.

Can a hair test determine how much or how often someone is using a drug?

No. Hair is a reservoir matrix, where drugs can collect and/or degrade over time. When testing any reservoir matrix, you are unable to back-track and determine time, dosage or frequency because there are simply too many variables involved.

Can someone test positive in hair because of passive or environmental exposure?

Yes, drugs are incorporated into hair by three major routes: environmental exposure, sweat and sebum from the scalp and blood flow through the follicle. Environmental exposure however will only generate a positive for the parent drug. Example: methamphetamine only. The other two mechanisms lay down drug and drug metabolites. Example: amphetamine/methamphetamine positive.

Does race make a difference in hair testing results?

Hair color, not race, is one of the most important variables in determining the quantity of drug found in the hair. Dark hair binds drug tighter than light hair.

How can positive drug or alcohol test results be interpreted? 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 a donor’s usage. 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.

How long can drugs be detected in body hair?

Body hair has a different growth cycle compared to head hair. Body hair may go dormant and remain in place up to one year. A positive result reflects exposure up to 12 months.

How long can drugs be detected in head hair?

Once a drug is incorporated into hair, it begins to slowly leach out due to normal daily hygiene and exposure to the elements. Most drugs have disappeared by three months. Furthermore, the laboratory only analyzes the first 1.5 inches (3.9 centimeters) nearest the scalp. Hair grows at an average rate of 0.5 inches per month.

What does a positive hair test result mean?

The only interpretation that can come from a positive hair test is that the individual used or was exposed to drug during the three months prior to collection.

Why do we test for EtG in hair and not FAEE?

FAEE is less sensitive and can produce false positives. Hairspray and other hair products can produce FAEEs in hair. There is no enzyme in our hair that can create ETG from those products.

Why was one matrix positive and another negative on the same donor?

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.
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