Chapter 5: Recent Trends in Forensic and Clinical Applications of Hair Analysis
Published:18 Dec 2023
I. A. Larabi and J. Alvarez, in Perspectives and Challenges of Hair Analysis, ed. P. Kintz, A. Salomone, and M. Vincenti, Royal Society of Chemistry, 2023, vol. 47, ch. 5, pp. 114-146.
Download citation file:
Hair analysis is a valuable tool for assessing drug exposure in forensic and clinical settings, offering an extended detection window for establishing long-term substance use patterns. It provides temporal resolution and enhances diagnostic capabilities, illuminating an individual’s drug history. Hair incorporates compounds from multiple routes, remaining stable and detectable for varying durations. The non-invasive nature of hair sampling makes it straightforward, requiring no extensive medical training. Hair analysis also differentiates between heavy, moderate, and light drug users by examining drug distribution and concentration along the hair shaft. However, interpreting hair test results is challenging due to various incorporation pathways and potential contamination sources. Inter-individual variability influenced by genetics, hair color, metabolic disorders, diet, and cosmetic use further complicates result interpretation. Understanding the intricacies of hair concentration results is vital. This chapter provides a summary of recent trends in the forensic and clinical applications of hair analysis, emphasizing its advantages and the complexities involved in result interpretation. By addressing these aspects, we aim to enhance understanding and utilization of hair analysis in diverse fields.