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How Much Is A Hair Follicle Test Cost: The Factors Contributing To The Price

16 February, 2024

A lab technician transferring hair samples into a petri dish

Hair follicle drug testing is a reliable method for detecting drug use, especially when needing a long detection window. However, it is significantly more expensive than other tests, ranging from $150 to $1000 per test. Several factors contribute to how much a hair follicle test costs. These include the types of substances they are testing for and the laboratory fees. The requested detection window, reflected in the quantity and length of hair needed, is also a consideration.

Various organisations use different kinds of tests to identify substance misuse. This includes breath, saliva, blood, and urine testing. However, hair follicle drug tests remain the test with the lengthiest detection period. This is crucial for various legal purposes. It also helps employers identify potential employees with alcohol or drug issues. This article will present information on the factors affecting the costs of a hair test, such as the types of substances, hair quantity and length, and laboratory fees.

How Much a Hair Follicle Test Cost Is Affected by the Types of Substances Tested For

A hair follicle test is a method of tracing the misuse of prescription medications and illegal drugs. Various organisations use it for different purposes. Legal testing aims to show proof of abstinence or lack thereof for legal proceedings. Some workplaces also conduct these to acquire a history of drug use during pre-employment testing.

However, hair sample testing is less common because of how much a hair follicle test costs. In comparison, urine and saliva testing are more affordable options. Nevertheless, hair testing can trace a wide variety of substances. This includes the common drugs of abuse, such as amphetamines, marijuana, cocaine, opiates (heroin, oxycodone, morphine, methadone), and benzodiazepines.

In addition, they may also screen for ethanol, which is an active ingredient in many alcoholic beverages. They may also test for substances like ecstasy (MDMA), barbiturates, methamphetamines, and phencyclidine (PCP). However, it is important to note that the costs also increase based on the amount of panels for the laboratory analysis.

Costs Associated with the Number of Drugs Being Tested

  • Number of panels: Laboratories can customise the test depending on the substances the individual or organisation wishes to test. However, it is important to note that the price of the test also increases, depending on the amount and kinds of panels they must use for the analysis. Some testing service providers offer discounts. Hence, comparing each one can prove beneficial.
  • Total time spent on analysis: Similarly, testing for many types of drugs will take longer, thus requiring the lab to charge higher prices. Moreover, requesting longer detection windows will also affect the duration of the analysis.

A laboratory professional looking at hair samples

How Much a Hair Follicle Test Cost Is Influenced by the Quantity and Length of Hair Sample Required

The collection process of a hair test is non-invasive. However, some may find it unpleasant due to the amount of hair needed for the test. Generally, hair testing uses scalp hair. Nonetheless, labs can also use body hair samples if needed. This includes strands of hair from the armpit or legs.

The quantity and length of hair samples needed also affect how much a hair follicle test costs. The detection period of hair drug tests is typically 90 days for most substances. However, some labs can offer a longer window for detection of up to one year. This is significant, especially for child custody battles or criminal investigations, which may require proof of abstinence from drug use.

Nevertheless, it is vital to remember that the hair drug testing method cannot trace substances consumed seven to ten days before the time of collection. This is due to hair growth rates. Hence, other methods of drug testing, such as urine, saliva, and blood tests, could be considered for detecting recent use.

Minimum Quantity and Length of Hair Required

The minimum quantity and hair length required can vary depending on the laboratory and the specific drugs they must test for. Generally, collectors must gather 90-120 hair strands, which weigh about 50 to 100 mg.

For the length, the minimum should be about 3.9 cm or 1.5 inches. This is for detecting use for 90 days. However, longer periods will also require longer strands. Accordingly, about 7.8 cm or 3 inches of length is needed for six months. Lastly, to trace the substances consumed for a year, collectors must acquire hair at the length of 15.6 cm or 6 inches.

A professional putting hair strands into a vial

How Much a Hair Follicle Test Cost is Affected by the Laboratory Fees

How much a hair follicle test costs is impacted by the laboratory fees involved in the testing. Due to the process needed for the test, samples must be sent to a laboratory for analysis. Upon arrival, the lab technicians will wash the hair to remove external contaminants. Afterwards, they will submerge the hair in a solution to reveal the inner core for analysis.

Various factors can affect how much the fees will ultimately cost. Typically, different labs have differing pricing structures and specific procedures for conducting tests. The location of the laboratory is one consideration that can influence the price. Larger and more reputable facilities typically charge higher fees compared to smaller ones.

Another factor that can influence the fees is the complexity of the test. Using advanced equipment and adding more hours to the analysis will naturally cost more than simpler procedures. Lastly, requesting additional services will also affect the overall price. For workplaces, this can be requests to conduct onsite collection of specimens.

Additional Costs for Confirmatory Testing

Confirmatory testing involves an in-depth analysis of the hair sample to detect specific drugs and their metabolites. It requires utilising advanced techniques and equipment, which is why they cost more than initial screening. This is a crucial test for instances wherein the initial test produces a non-negative result.

The gold standard for confirmatory testing analysis is Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS). Some may also use Liquid Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (LC-MS), which works similarly to GC-MS. These are accurate and precise techniques that can quantify the substances in the sample. However, the analysis also takes days, which further increases the costs.

Conclusion

A hair follicle test is one method that organisations use to trace substances or drug metabolites from an individual. It is a reliable method that has the longest detection period. It can trace substances for about 90 days, but some laboratories offer detection of substances for up to a year. Consequently, this larger window affects how much a hair follicle test costs. Laboratories may charge $150 to over $1000 per test.

Various factors affect the overall cost. Firstly, the amount and type of substances they wish to test for is a large contributing factor. Hair test prices increase depending on the amount of panels for analysis. Another factor is the amount and length of hair samples. This also correlates to the length of the detection period. Lastly, the laboratory fees can significantly contribute to the price. Hence, comparing different service providers may prove beneficial.

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      A lab technician transferring hair samples into a petri dish

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