What You Need To Know: Testing for Drug Exposure vs. Ingestion
Testing for environmental exposure to illicit drugs is a powerful tool for protecting the welfare of children. Exposure testing is different from typical drug testing, and when properly done, has the potential to reduce the risk of harm to children.
No Metabolite Does NOT Mean No Exposure
Testing labs often apply government workplace testing guidelines to child exposure testing samples. Under workplace guidelines, negative results are reported when drug metabolites are absent in the testing sample, even if the native drug is present.
Child hair and nail samples for exposure testing often do not contain drug metabolites because the child has not ingested illicit substances. Adhering to workplace guidelines can result in false negative reporting for drug exposure, especially when children are involved.
Environmental Exposure testing is most effective in alternative sample types, such as hair and fingernails. For example, hair testing is 3.5x more likely to detect methamphetamine exposure than urine testing. Typical drug testing samples are washed to remove drug biomarkers resulting from exposure. Environmental exposure testing eliminates this step.
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