wide window of detection

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 on someone who is lacking hair or is bald.

Typically, hair is cut from the crown at 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 hair is placed side by side, the amount equals approximately ½ inch of hair.

If the donor does not have head hair or if their hair is 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 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 anywhere on body, a collector may combine hair from different locations on the body or hair from different areas of the scalp to complete a single sample. 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 abuse.

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.