June 1, 2015 11:00 AM, EDT

Dept. of Health and Human Services Seeks Information on Hair Testing

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A division of the Department of Health and Human Services has published a request for a variety of information from the public and transportation industry stakeholders on the potential of use of hair specimens for drug testing.

Specifically, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Drug Testing Advisory Board said it is considering issues “regarding the scientific methodology and forensic defensibility of hair testing” with an eye toward possible recommendations for proposed changes to mandatory guidelines for federal workplace drug-testing programs, including the Department of Transportation.

SAMHSA is collecting information on a variety of issues related to hair-specimen drug testing, “including the hair specimen, its collection, specimen preparation, analyses, cutoffs, specimen validity, and initial and confirmatory testing,” the request said.

While some motor carriers already collect hair specimens for testing potential employees, under current federal government regulations, urinalysis is the only acceptable testing method for the pre-employment and random drug testing that carriers must conduct on drivers and applicants.

Many in the industry consider hair testing more reliable.

The May 29 posting in the Federal Register said, “Any notice and subsequent final rule issued by the HHS regarding hair testing may affect the DOT testing program but only after the DOT conducts its own rulemaking.”

Long-sought legislation among many in the trucking and safety communities to allow carriers to use hair testing in place of urinalysis to detect drug use in drivers was introduced in the U.S. House and Senate on March 19.

The bill has not reached a vote in the House or Senate.