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Evaluating Analytical Parameters and Understanding Drug-Matrix Interactions in Forensic Hair Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
54 pages

This report addresses the problem of a lack of consistent protocols for forensic hair testing of commonly abused drugs; it also addresses the problem that the mechanisms of binding for drugs to hair are not well understood.


The research reported in this document considers the limitations of optimizing a method for forensic hair analysis of multiple drugs and metabolites, and assesses optimized forensic hair analysis methods. The author lists two hypotheses that guided the research questions discussed in this paper: there would not be one consistent optimized forensic hair testing method for all drugs, with a research goal of optimizing protocols for decontamination, pretreatment, and extraction of alprazolam, diazepam, and nordiazepam, methamphetamine, cocaine and its metabolites, oxycodone, metabolites of heroin, and fentanyl; and that both ionic and non-ionic interactions play a role in the binding of drugs to hair, with a research goal of assessing relative amounts of ionic and non-ionic binding of methamphetamine, cocaine and its metabolites, oxycodone, metabolites of heroin, and oxycodone in hair. The data presented illuminate potential sites for binding between drugs and metabolites and hair that have not previously been studied in literature. Additionally, the author presents the first report binding studies for 6-MAM, HYCOC, NORCOC, and OXY, which provide additional understanding regarding drug-matrix interactions, and which are imperative to understanding and improving forensic hair analysis methods.

Date Published: January 1, 2023