Hair Testing FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What drugs can Omega test for with hair?
Cocaine, marijuana, opiates (codeine, morphine & 6-acetylmorphine, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxycodone), Amphetamines (Methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA), and phencyclidine (PCP).

2. What time period does hair testing cover?
The typical length of hair tested is 1½ inches from the root end. Since the average growth rate of human head is approximately ½ inch (1.3 cm) per month a hair analysis covers an approximate 90 day time frame. This time frame is an approximation only since an individual’s actual hair growth rate may vary from the average.

3. How soon after use can a drug be detected in hair?
It takes approximately 5-10 days from the time of drug use for the hair containing drug to grow above the scalp where it can be collected. 

4. What methodology do you employ?
Hair samples are first screened in our laboratory using Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) methodology, which has been proven reliable for routine drug testing. Any samples that test presumptively positive in the screening process are then subjected to gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), gas chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (GC/MS/MS), or liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS) confirmation testing.

5. How does Omega Laboratories establish its cut-off levels?
Omega follows the cut-off levels generally accepted industry-wide and are similar to the cut-off levels in the 2004 proposed SAMHSA guidelines.

6. What is the turnaround time?
Samples received by Omega Laboratories will report out within 1-3 business days.

7. Is Omega Laboratories' internal chain-of-custody comparable to a urinalysis laboratory test procedure?
Omega's internal chain-of-custody is modeled after Federal guidelines (SAMHSA) as well as other accrediting agencies (CAP).

8. What is done with the excess hair that is not tested?
Any hair remaining after testing is completed is retained for a one year period.

9. How is the data reported?
As with all Omega testing, results are reported to the designated party and Medical Review Officer, if appropriate. This may be done via the Omega Extranet, fax or electronic data exchange of test results.

10. Does Omega Laboratories wash the hair prior to analysis?
All hair specimens are washed prior to confirmation testing to remove possible external contamination. The wash procedures were reviewed by the FDA as part of the 510(k) clearance.

11. Can external exposure to drugs (marijuana smoke, crack smoke, etc.) have an effect on the Hair Test results?
Along with a wash procedure, Omega looks for both the parent drug & metabolite (bi-product) of drug usage (where appropriate). For marijuana analysis, Omega detects only the metabolite (THC-COOH). This metabolite is only produced by the body and cannot be an environmental contaminant.

12. Can a hair test be beaten/adulterated?
At this time there are no known successful commercial adulterants for hair tests and the recommended use of normal hair care products/procedures (shampoos, dyes, permanents, relaxers, bleaches) do not have a significant effect on results. The effects of these products were reviewed by the FDA as part of the 510(k) clearance.

13. Does hair color effect results?
Hair color is determined by the amount of melanin in the hair. It has been shown experimentally, through actual hair samples, as well as determined in court that hair color has no significant impact on results.

14. Does body hair give the same type of results as head hair?
Yes, body hair can be used for testing. However the time frame associated with body cannot be determined.

15. Can hair collected from a brush be used?
Yes, but the test will be reported as having an "anonymous" donor. We cannot attribute the sample to any specific person and we cannot determine the timeframe of the test, so the test result is not legally defensible. 

New Cutoff Levels for Opiates Effective December 1, 2013

Please be advised that Omega Laboratories, Inc. will be lowering the Opiates screening and confirmation cutoff levels for all standard hair tests effective December 1, 2013. From this date forward, all hair specimen tests will be evaluated at 200 pg/mg of hair cutoff levels for Opiates and Extended Opiates. 

Click for More Information

Omega Laboratories Virtual Tour

Omega Laboratories is now available for a virtual tour online!

Tour Omega Laboratories Now!