CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Govt. May Start Hair Drug Testing Employees

From  Men pay to make it grow. Women spend lavishly to dye, cut and coordinate it with their wardrobe. But these days, hair isn't just a key accessory to looking good.

It also can give government agencies a way to determine who might be abusing drugs in the workplace. Currently, the federal government is reviewing whether to expand its existing employee drug-testing guidelines to include analyzing hair for evidence of illicit drug use.

As screening methods for hair, saliva and sweat have improved in recent years, there has been a long-running and often contentious debate over whether these should be added to the current gold standard, the urine test.

Forensic experts agree there are benefits to both urine and hair analysis. Although urine testing can find traces of a drug for about five days after being ingested, trace amounts of a chemical substance entrapped in the cortex of a hair strand can be found up to three months later.

But in July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration abruptly backed away from a proposal that would allow federal agencies the leeway to include saliva, sweat and hair testing along with urine tests, officials said.

Rest of Article. . . [Mark Godsey]

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