Urine Today, Your Hair 2021

It took an act of Congress and six years of waiting, but at long last federal guidelines for hair-sample drug tests specific to the trucking industry will be made available in 2021.

The FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) was signed into law, December 2015,  with provisions for highway safety improvement, including programs to decrease fatalities and injuries. The act directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue scientific and technical guidelines for hair sample drugs within one year of the law’s enactment. While that deadline has passed, the need for it has not. The Federal Register published notice of guidelines on Sept. 10, allowing for a 60-day public comment period, which closed on Nov. 9.

Hair, There and Everywhere by 2021

Drivers can be required to submit to hair testing for pre-employment screenings by prospective employers, as well as random testing, according to section 5402 of the act.  Additionally, drivers who apply for jobs at companies requiring hair sample testing must comply or potentially be flagged in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse

Hair sample testing is more of a “lifestyle” test than urine testing, since many types of substances remain in hair samples  longer than they remain in the body.  According to Tim Thoelecke Jr, founder of InOut Labs, a nationwide  medical testing lab  providing world-class drug testing and wellness testing services, “Substances such as cocaine, methamphetamine and opiates are excreted from the body and undetectable in urine 72 hours after use. A hair sample test covers a period of months.” 

Humans have millions of hair follicles throughout their heads and bodies. Each hair follicle has a blood vessel that feeds the growth of the hair strand. Blood vessels carry metabolized drugs in the bloodstream into hair follicles. Traces of drugs can then be detected within the length of a hair strand.

According to Thoelecke, “Typical drug screens for commercial carriers are set up to detect levels of amphetamines, cocaine, marijuana, opiates and PCP.” At InOut Labs,  all tests follow established thresholds for each drug above the approved level in a positive drug screen.

Hair is Everywhere

The use of hair samples for drug testing is well-established and has been used in all sectors including the federal government, schools and businesses as well as in the state court systems for drug offenders in their probation, parole, and diversionary program. 

Hair sample testing has many advantages over other types of testing because:

  •  It can detect up to 90-days of drug use  
  •  The collection process is conducted by authorized lab personnel so a violator cannot “cheat.”
  • It provides more reliable results since it is impossible to substitute a hair specimen during the observed collection process, unlike that of urine testing.

Until the new regulations are issued, only urine tests are allowed in federally regulated drug testing. 

InOut Labs is a full-service C/TPA providing complete turnkey compliance systems for the transportation industry and ensuring compliance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.  

We also offer a number of drug screen services, available nationwide, for organizations and individuals.   

We make testing painless. Call us today at 847-657-7900.  

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