Hair testing

Ask the Experts: Hair drug test specimens

by Nicole Jupe on October 17, 2017

Q: Can a hair drug test be performed on someone with little or no hair?

We get many questions from both individuals scheduled for a drug screen and employers in anticipation of a hair drug test. They wonder how much hair is needed, what part of the head is the hair is cut from, whether color, bleach, shampoos, or salon treatments may interfere with test results, and how a hair collection is performed for someone who is lacking hair or is bald.

Typically, hair is cut from the crown of the back of the head in a way where it will not be noticeable. If the individual visits a Quest Diagnostics collection site, a professional collector is trained to cut only the small amount of hair needed for our laboratory to perform the test. If the cut hairs are placed side by side, the amount equals approximately ½ inch of hair.

If the donor does not have head hair or if their hair less than a ½ inch long, a specimen can be taken from other locations on the body. In order of preference, our collectors will cut body hair from the chest, underarm, leg, or facial hair to obtain a sample. Body hair is usually lighter in weight; therefore much more hair is needed to gather an adequate sample for a drug screen.

In the event that hair is not present in large quantities throughout the body, a collector may combine hair from different locations on the body and hair from different areas of the scalp to complete a single specimen collection. However, head hair and body hair cannot be mixed. The collector will always note the source of the hair sample on the envelope, which will aid in a more accurate interpretation of the final hair drug test result.

Hair testing is the only drug testing method available that provides up to a 90-day drug use history. This method of specimen collection has become increasingly popular as employers rely on hair testing as an effective way to evaluate long-term patterns of drug use.

Read our Hair Testing FAQs for more frequently asked questions about hair testing.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Hair testing helps to protect safety

by Nicole Jupe on August 29, 2017

hair drug testingSafety remains a primary reason for drug testing, and that’s just as true in the U.S. as it is in Brazil. The Brazilian government faced serious challenges keeping its streets and highways safe with 40,000 traffic-related deaths annually. The dangers were reflected in data from the World Health Organization, which ranks Brazil fifth in the world for fatal car accidents. Brazilian lawmakers took action in the interest of safety and public health and enacted a mandatory “wide window of detection” test for drugs of abuse for professional drivers in 2016.

Our new case study discusses:

  • The history of drug use in Brazil
  • Advantages of hair drug testing
  • Early findings in overall drug positivity
  • Most commonly-detected drugs
  • U.S. testing regulations for transportation

Hair testing for drugs of abuse is the only drug testing method available that provides up to a 90-day drug use history. With an observed collection that is difficult to cheat, a hair test is the most effective way to evaluate long-term patterns of use, making it an excellent option for pre-employment or random drug testing programs.

Download our new case study about why Brazil chose hair drug testing.

For more information about drug testing, visit our website or contact us online.

Ask the Experts: Hair drug test collections

August 4, 2017Hair testing

Question: How much hair is needed for a drug test? Rumors abound about exactly how much hair is snipped for a hair drug test. Some imagine they will suffer with a choppy, bad haircut or bald spot. Others fear they will lose their precious locks and require a hat wherever they go. In fact, quite […]

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Ask the Experts: Effects of Hair Treatments on Drug Test Results

June 27, 2016Hair testing

Question: Can products and treatments affect hair drug test results?  Some employers who use hair testing as part of their workplace drug testing program wonder if hair products – like shampoos, sprays, gels, coloring, bleaching, and perming – can have an impact on their test results. We asked Dr. Barry Sample, Director of Science and […]

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Taking the High out of High School

May 12, 2016News

On April 23, the Detroit Free Press reported that the Detroit Catholic Central High School will begin hair testing their students for marijuana, opiates, cocaine and other drugs. This is one of many examples of a rising trend among private high schools searching for new ways to discourage drug use among teens. Proponents of random […]

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Drug Testing Needs Assessment

March 14, 2016Drug Testing

Employers are tasked with making important decisions about how best to keep their workplaces safe, productive and drug-free. An important component of creating and maintaining a drug-free workplace is having an effective drug testing program. And, while urine drug testing has been the standard for decades, there are now many other drug testing options available, […]

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Quest Diagnostics & Labet Offer Hair Drug Testing in Brazil

March 7, 2016News

According to the World Health Organization, Brazil ranks fifth in the world for deaths as a result of car accidents. In addition, research published in the Journal of Addiction shows that some Brazilian drivers have serious problems with illicit drug and alcohol use. These statistics compelled Brazilian lawmakers to take actions to make travel safer […]

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Guide for Drug Testing Laws

September 21, 2015Drug Testing

One of the most critical elements of your organization’s drug testing program is a comprehensive, well-written policy that is both easy for employees to understand and compliant with state and federal laws. State laws for drug testing vary across the country, while many states permit all types of drug testing, some states have unique requirements […]

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Quest Comments for Hair Specimen Mandatory Guidelines

August 5, 2015Hair testing

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Request for Information in the Federal Register seeking comments on regulatory policies and standards regarding the potential use of hair specimens for Federally-mandated drug and alcohol testing. This publication opened a 60-day comment period to allow the public to participate in […]

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Request for Hair Drug Testing Information

May 29, 2015Hair testing

On May 29, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a Request for Information (RFI) in the Federal Register seeking comments on regulatory policies and standards regarding the potential use of hair specimens for federally-mandated drug and alcohol testing. The RFI seeks comments and questions on several specific topics including: Acceptable locations on […]

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