Hair testing

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

by Nicole Jupe on August 4, 2017

How much hair is needed for a drug test?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 the opposite is true if an individual visits a site with trained, professional collectors. At these drug test collection sites, the collector will only cut the small, specific amount of hair needed for the laboratory to perform the test. The hair is typically cut from the crown of the back of the head in a manner where it will not be as noticeable.

At Quest Diagnostics, our scientific experts have defined precise measurements for a hair test specimen collection. The amount of hair needed for a hair drug is approximately 100 milligrams made up of the first 1-½ inches from the root end. Since the weight of hair varies by individual and because drug testing collectors do not have access to highly sensitive weighing scales, it is easier to visualize the required quantity in terms of the width or diameter of the hair specimen collected.

If the hair is more than four inches long, the laboratory requires approximately 120 strands. If placed in a bundle this quantity of hair would resemble the circumference of a pencil; or if laid flat, would be approximately 1 centimeter in width. It is critical that the root ends of the cut hair are aligned and placed with the root ends extending about ¼ inch beyond the pointed portion of the arrow formed by the foil in the Quest collection kit. In order to approximate time of drug use (up to 90 days), the lab will cut and use about 1½ inches from the root end. If the collected hair is shorter than four inches, but longer than a ½ inch, additional strands of hair (in addition to the first 120 strands), or a larger quantity of hair is required to ensure an adequate amount of hair is received to complete testing. If the hair is curly, root ends do not have to be kept aligned and the hair sample size should resemble the size of a standard cotton ball.

If the donor has no head hair or hair shorter than ½ inch long, the collector may use chest, underarm, leg, or facial hair—in that order of preference. The amount collected should resemble a standard cotton ball. The collector should always note the source of the hair sample on the hair collection envelope. This will aid in a more accurate interpretation of the drug test result. If body hair is collected, the collector must make sure to collect as much hair as possible. Body hair is usually lighter in weight and more hair is needed for testing.

These detailed collection protocols should reassure donors that only a minimal amount of hair is cut for a drug screening and stress the importance of a trained collector.

Visit 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.

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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Detect Repetitive Drug Use with Hair Testing

February 12, 2015Hair testing

Workplace health and safety is more important than ever with an increase of workplace injuries, accidents and workers’ compensation claims. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 75 percent of drug users are employed, and the U.S. Department of Labor reports drug abuse causes 65 percent of on-the-job accidents. As these numbers […]

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