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Hair testing for drugs of abuse is performed in Lombardy by eleven analytical laboratories accredited for forensic purposes, the most frequent purposes being driving license regranting and workplace drug testing. Individuals undergoing hair testing for these purposes can choose the laboratory in which the analyses have to be carried out. The aim of our study was to perform an interlaboratory exercise in order to verify the level of standardization of hair testing for drugs of abuse in these accredited laboratories; nine out of the eleven laboratories participated in this exercise. Sixteen hair strands coming from different subjects were longitudinally divided in 3-4 aliquots and distributed to participating laboratories, which were requested to apply their routine methods. All the participants analyzed opiates (morphine and 6-acetylmorphine) and cocainics (cocaine and benzoylecgonine) while only six analyzed methadone and amphetamines (amphetamine, methamphetamine, MDMA, MDA and MDEA) and five Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The majority of the participants (seven labs) performed acidic hydrolysis to extract the drugs from the hair and analysis by GC-MS, while two labs used LC-MS/MS. Eight laboratories performed initial screening tests by Enzyme Multiplied Immunoassay Technique (EMIT), Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) or Cloned Enzyme Donor Immunoassay (CEDIA). Results demonstrated a good qualitative performance for all the participants, since no false positive results were reported by any of them. Quantitative data were quite scattered, but less in samples with low concentrations of analytes than in those with higher concentrations. Results from this first regional interlaboratory exercise show that, on the one hand, individuals undergoing hair testing would have obtained the same qualitative results in any of the nine laboratories. On the other hand, the scatter in quantitative results could cause some inequalities if any interpretation of the data is required. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.


C Stramesi, C Vignali, A Groppi, M Caligara, F Lodi, S Pichini, C Jurado. The standardization of results on hair testing for drugs of abuse: An interlaboratory exercise in Lombardy Region, Italy. Forensic science international. 2012 May 10;218(1-3):101-5

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PMID: 22018743

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