Detailed background
Cocaine - A Brief Overview
A History of the Study of Cocaine in Hair
The Controversy of Hair Testing
General Procedures of Hair Testing
Detailed Procedure to Extract Compounds
A Few Chemical Structures
Works Cited
GC-MS tutorial
>>>Go to Lab

Cocaine in Hair

The Problem:   How would a company searching for new employees to take a high responsibility position (an airline control tower worker or a 911 operator for example) determine the possible long term drug usage of its applicants?

Cocaine is an opiate drug which is used by approximately 1.3 million people each month in the United States. Cocaine users feel a "high" effect which consists of feelings of euphoria, gregariousness, and heightened sensory experiences after snorting, smoking, or injecting cocaine due to the altered dopamine levels in the brain.

Hair Analysis is relatively new technique to the forensic world. Hair analysis can sometimes provide a long term chronological record of a person's selected drug use. This is because drugs like cocaine (or marijuana, phenylcyclidine (PCP), amphetamines, among others) are incorporated into the hair matrix at the time of ingestion and remain in the hair until it is cut or otherwise seriously damaged. Urine and blood tests are the standard and accepted methods of drug analysis today, but they are only useful if the sample is taken within 2-3 days of ingestion. Hair analysis can show from months to years of drug usage depending upon the length of the subject's hair. It is common today, even for summer-time jobs in the corporate world, for employers to require a hair sample from any job applicant. These hair samples are being tested for the presence of drugs of abuse.

The Experiment is for you to determine if a sample of hair belongs to a cocaine user or not. In order to accomplish this, an analysis using GC-MS on a washed and extracted sample of hair is needed.

© Copyright 2003 VMSL All right reserved