How are drugs detected in hair?

Drug & Alcohol Testing Hair Testing The Science
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Hair drug testing analyses a clients hair sample for drugs, that they may of used within a stipulated timeframe.

Hair samples taken from the clients head or body hair are sent to our laboratory to be examined for legal or illegal drug substances. Toxicology experts will be looking for metabolites, these are compounds produced from chemical changes from the use of drugs. The presence of metabolites in a clients hair is a primary indicator that they have used drugs within an allotted timeframe.

If your client claims that they have been in an environment where drugs have been ingested, DNA Legal will be able to accurately depict this.  By detecting the drug metabolite that has been chemically produced by the body it is a positive proof that ingestion has occurred.

For example if the client claims to have been in an environment where cannabis has been smoked, the clients hair will not have the metabolite called THC-COOH (unless they have effectively inhaled significant and ongoing amounts of secondhand smoke). However if that metabolite is in their hair, then they would of smoked cannabis. One thing to consider is that if your client is spending their days in the same room as others who consume drugs they will in fact start to ingest the drugs (in the same way as passive smoking occurs).

DNA Legal have added an extra unique step to our testing process by analysing the outside of the hair for drugs (known as analysing the wash samples) to ensure that the ratio of external drugs to internal drugs is inline with ingestion vs passive exposure.

How effective is hair drug testing?

Hair drug testing is the most accurate method of testing for drugs. Hair drug testing allows to accurately identify drug patterns in the past. Testing is able to look for upto 12 months, however this depends on the length of the clients hair that is available for testing. The more hair a client has, the longer we can look into their past.  

Body hair vs head hair

Body hair can be used for drug testing if the client has little to no head hair. Body hair is less desirable as there is less research on dose concentration ratios. Body hair grows at highly variable rates, trying to accurately define a timeframe is therefore much more difficult.

The body hair that we can use if the client does not have sufficient head hair is underarm, leg, chest hair and pubic. If the client doesn't have any body hair whatsoever, then we cannot perform a hair drug test. However DNA Legal have other methods of testing for drugs that can be used such as Nail Drug & Alcohol Testing or Urine Testing.   

Why DNA Legal

One of the most important aspects of the hair drug testing process is having a highly credible expert that takes time to accurately document your clients results. Dr Pascal Kintz is the founder of hair testing and he is the DNA Legal Head of Toxicology.

You can also expect a rapid turnaround, once our lab has received the samples you can expect your clients drug results within 5-7 business days. Our expert witness reports are written and delivered within 48 hours of when your clients drug results have been issued. For more information, contact our legal team on 0203 4243 470 or request an online quote here

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