Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) by dried blood spot (DBS) analysis
PEth is a phospholipid formed only in the presence of ethanol
PEth is a direct marker for alcohol use and is highly correlated to alcohol intake over the past month
PEth provides proof of abstinence and also distinguishes between heavy and moderate drinking
ToxLogic is NATA accredited for workplace drug testing
Accreditation for urine and oral fluid collections and testing
NATA Accreditation No. 19780
Hair sample analysis to test for use of, or abstinence from, drugs and alcohol
Testing can be done using head or body hair
Testing laboratories are accredited to ISO/IEC 17025
Results returned within 10-14 days of collection
Expert reports available
AND POST INCIDENT CALL OUTS
On-call service available in Metropolitan Melbourne and Gippsland Region
24 hours a day, 7 days per week
Excellent response times
Urine And Oral Fluid Testing
We are a NATA accredited collection agency
Urine testing conducted in to AS/NZS 4308:2008
Oral Fluid testing conducted to AS/NZS 4760:2019
Services available on-site or at our offices in Melbourne and Gippsland
Chain of Custody
Chain of Custody is our standard procedure for all collections
Chain of Custody is legally defensible
Results of hair analysis are often used in court cases
FAQ: Hair Testing
Is hair pulled out of the scalp to examine the follicle?
No. Despite often being referred to as hair follicle testing, the hair follicle is in fact not removed and not tested.
We refer to these drug tests as hair testing, or hair strand testing, because the hair is cut close to the scalp, meaning it is quick and painless to obtain a sample.
How are hair samples collected?
Hair is normally taken from the back of the head. A very small sample is required, each lock is only 50 – 100 hairs. The laboratories we work with require a much smaller sample size than other laboratories.
The collector will lift the hair to take a sample from underneath where the hair sits, for example underneath a parting. The hair is cut close to the scalp either in a small patch (the size of the letter O on your keyboard or less than the size of a phone charger cord) or in a thin straight line (this is only possible in longer hair).
We collect two or three locks of hair depending on whether the analysis is for drugs (two locks) or drugs and alcohol (three locks). The laboratory keeps one lock of hair in reserve in case additional testing is required (the B sample).
You may be able to feel the spot where the hair was removed but it will not be visible without close inspection and lifting the hair. New hair will grow out from the scalp within a few days.
Once the hair is collected it is placed in a piece of foil to hold it steady and put in a small envelope with a tamper evident seal.
Can bald people be hair tested?
Yes. If head hair is not present or for reasons such as alopecia a head hair sample cannot be taken, then alternative samples can be used.
Body hair is suitable for drug testing and alcohol*, however due to its growth cycle, body hair cannot not be sectioned. As such month-by-month analysis is not possible. The timeframe covered by a body hair sample will depend on the length of the sample and will be quoted in the laboratory report.
*Body hair collected from some sites e.g. underarm and back, cannot be used for alcohol analysis.
If hair is dyed or bleached, is it still worth doing a hair test?
Yes. Hair drug testing on dyed or bleached hair may still be worthwhile.
Any chemical treatment such as hair dye, bleach, chemical straightening and permanent waves can damage the hair. This damage may lead to some of the drugs that may be present, being leached out from the hair.
Treated hair may hold less drug than if the hair had not been dyed, bleached or chemically styled. As a result, it is possible that low or single use of any substances may not be detected. More frequent use of drugs can still be detected but the concentration found may be less than that detected in untreated hair.
Is there a difference between hair that was dyed a long time ago as opposed to more recent dyeing in terms of the results?
Hair dyed a long time ago will be further down the shaft and possibly exposed to more environmental damage such as sun damage. Anything that damages hair will allow drugs and metabolites to leach out. Ideally, hair drug testing works best on undyed hair.
If the hair was last treated more than a month ago, month-by-month analysis may show the difference between treated and untreated hair.
Can occasional use of drugs during the section analysed not to show up in a hair test?
It is possible that low or single use of drugs may be at a level that is below detection by the laboratory. Different drugs and their metabolites bind to the hair with different strengths, so some will leach out more easily than others. Month-by-month analysis is the more sensitive test if you are looking to detect occasional use.
Does hair drug testing show levels?
Yes. The quantity or level of drugs detected in the hair sample are listed with both the certificate of analysis and expert report.
Positive results are reported in nanogram or picogram of analyte per milligram of hair (ng/mg or pg/mg).
How fast does head hair grow?
Head hair grows between 0.7 and 1.5 centimetres per month, with an average of 1 centimetre per month. For analysis, the timeframe of a result is calculated using a growth rate of 1 centimetre per month.
How soon after use can a drug be detected in hair?
Approximately two weeks.
The substance and it’s metabolites are deposited on the hair follicle (inside the scalp) while it is in the blood. The hair must then grow outside of the scalp to be collected and sent to the laboratory for analysis.
If testing is required to include the date of a particular incident, sample collection should not be done until at least one month after the date in question.
What is the shortest period of time that can be accurately evaluated?
The standard shortest time period evaluated by most hair testing laboratories is one month. It is not possible for any laboratory to pinpoint a day or week that a substance was used.
Smaller sections may be analysed in certain cases. This will only be done with agreement of the laboratory. In limited circumstances a sample may be sectioned into smaller pieces to determine a fortnight interval.
Is all hair testing the same?
No. There are two main differences in hair testing, methodology and scope (substances analysed).
The gold-standard method for hair testing is LCMS-MS (liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectroscopy). This is a highly accurate testing method able to detect low levels of substances. Some laboratories use a less sensitive immunoassay test and only use LCMS-MS to confirm specific substances.
The laboratories we work with only use LCMS-MS which ensures the most accurate results.
Some drug testing companies only offer set panels based on US drug usage. These will include substances not seen or used in Australia such as PCP (phencyclidine).
How are results interpreted?
The laboratories we work with have experienced scientists who can write expert reports if required. These reports provide an interpretation of the results which can be used in court, legal and workplace proceedings.
Can environmental contamination affect the results of a hair drug test?
While drugs in the environment can land on the hair they will not have been ingested. Therefore, the hair will not show any drug metabolites.
Metabolites are the forms of drugs present in the body after they have been consumed (inhaled, smoked, injected, ingested). Without metabolites present, it is not possible to say a drug has been used.
Hair samples are washed prior to analysis to minimise external contamination. Where applicable, the wash liquid may also be tested for presence of substances.
Can you test for GHB in hair?
Yes, Cansford Laboratories is one of the few laboratories who can test for GHB.
Gammahydroxybuterate (GHB) is a difficult substance to detect in blood and urine due to a very short window of detection.
GHB is an endogenous (originating internally) substance in the body, and therefore the testing of hair will show naturally occurring levels of GHB.
Cansford Laboratories has developed a method to look for increased GHB levels in a person’s hair. Routine analysis of GHB is month-by-month for at least three months. For drink spiking incidents, sections as small as 0.3cm are tested (8 x 0.3cm). This enables the best chance at detecting a one-off GHB administration around the time of the incident.
Do methadone and heroin look the same on a hair drug test?
No. Heroin is an opiate that breaks down into 6-acetylmorphine and diacetylmorphine and finally morphine.
Methadone is a synthetic opioid, which breaks down into 2-ethylidene-3,3-diphenylpyrrolidine (EDDP) and does not contain any morphine.
While the effects of these two substances are similar, they are chemically distinct and therefore able to be distinguished by the laboratory.
Can hair from a hairbrush be collected and analysed?
No. We provide a chain of custody collection and testing service. This requires consent from the donor (person providing the hair sample) and the hair to be collected from the body by a trained collector.
Can a hair test be avoided if I shave my head?
Head hair is the preferred sample. However, body hair can also be used for drug and alcohol testing. Our collectors can collect samples from beard, underarm, leg, arm, and chest hair. Pubic hair can be analysed must be collected by a GP.
I have not used any cocaine in the last three months but my hair test showed I had used during that period. How is that possible?
When people stop taking drugs, drug levels quickly drop but these levels can remain detectable for some months because of the proportion of hair in the resting phase. This phase of hair is not growing but does contain traces of drug from previous use. It can take some months for all traces of drugs to be eliminated from the hair after cessation of use.
Can passive smoke affect a hair test for cannabis?
No. There may be a low level of cannabis (THC) present in your hair sample which would indicate an association with cannabis.
However, when testing hair samples for cannabis use, the laboratory looks for the presence of both the parent drug (THC) and the metabolite (11-nor-delta9-THC-carboxylic acid).
The presence of the metabolite confirms drug use and excludes environmental contamination. The presence of THC in isolation cannot be regarded as an absolute indicator of cannabis use.