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Research paper topic: Drug Testing - 1438 words
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.. ays Morphine 2 to 4 days Methamphetamine 2 to 4 days Valium 30 days (Bina 124) Today many companies are doing what the FBI has been doing for years, using hair follicle testing as a means of drug screening. Hair follicle testing is a drug testing method that is perhaps, less demeaning, less invasive, and less likely to be tampered with than the well-known urine test. Although, it is more reliable than urine testing it has its problems that need to be addressed. It is necessary for one to understand how hair grows to be able to understand the testing procedure.
Hair grows within a small cavity known as the hair follicle. Hair growth occurs when cells divide in the matrix near the bottom of the follicle. This is where tissue and blood vessels supply food materials and oxygen to the cells so that cell growth can occur. After someone takes a drug, the drug travels through the blood to cells in the hair follicle. At this point the drug becomes permanently locked into the cells.
As new hair moves through the follicle and emerges out of the surface of the skin, the drug is permanently imprinted in the hair. Each instance of drug intake becomes forever recorded on strands of hair in chronological order of when the drug was ingested into the body (Brady 60). The procedure to test the hair for drugs is quite simple. Between 60 and 120 strands of hair approximately one-and-a-half inches are cut from the scalp. The strands are washed to remove external containment's. They are liquefied and separate chemical screens are administers.
If a drug or drugs are detected, a second test using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry is performed to confirm the findings. Hair follicle testing costs about $50-$65. The initial test results are available in 24 to 48 hours. If the initial screening reveals the presence of drugs, the results of the second test to confirm the findings takes another 48 hour to complete (Brady 60). There are several advantages to hair follicle testing over urinalysis. For one, they are not fooled by consumption of excessive fluids prior to the test.
The test also has no window of detection because hair creates a historical pattern of drug use unlike any other procedure. It cuts down on the embarrassment factor because you don not have to be observed while going to the bathroom, or carrying out the obvious cup. It also does not require any special handling, storage, shipping, or refrigeration. Although hair follicle testing has its benefits, like the rest of the procedures it has its problems too. First of all, it is very expensive.
It costs three times more than urinalysis, because it is still in its early technological stages. It may also cause discomfort because the preferred method is to pluck hair out of the head in order to get intact hair roots. If the root of the hair is not present, very recent drug use (five to eight days) cannot be detected. The last factor is inconsistent hair growth rate. The "average" growth rate is this procedure is considered to be a half-inch per month, but that may not be accurate. Some people's hair may grow faster of slower than the average. This difference is crucial in determining when the person consumed the drug (Brady 61).
Although hair follicle testing seems to be the most accurate way to test for drug use, there is much debate over the accuracy of it because of the difference in the way hair reacts with the environment. It is feared that African-Americans are subject to false positive results. This issue has been brought to the House Judiciary Committee due to several cases of job discharges blamed for what employees call false-positives (Kean 32). Hair testing may also be under fire in several racial discrimination law suits. Apparently, in August 1998seven Chicago African-Americans say they received erroneous hair test results when applying for the Police Academy. All seven have filed complaints of racial discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The complaints are currently under investigation, and the group is considering suing both the city of Chicago and Psychemedics, the testing facility. The procedure is said by some to be inaccurate and to give false positives disproportionately to African Americans. Also, blonde hair, dark hair and dyed hair react differently thus creating questions of equity among ethnic groups and genders. A study released by the National Institute of Drug Abuse shows that dark, coarse hair of many African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians is more likely to retain external contamination, such as drug residues absorbed from the environment. Black hair retained drugs at a rate up to fifty times higher than the white hair (Kean 34). Hair testing facilities insist that hair samples are washed thoroughly to remove the hair surface, which totally eliminates any external environmental contaminants before testing.
There may also be a reason that no hair testing has been federally certified, and Psychemedics has refused to disclose its testing and analysis procedures to the scientific community. In 1998, Sergeant Duane Adens, an African American was discharged from his fourteen-year job at the Pentagon for allegedly failing a hair test. Adens was six years away from retirement when two agents from the Army's Critical Investigation Division asked him to testify against an associate of his, who had been accused of stealing. Adens refused because he had no knowledge of the crime. He was later threatened with his job due to the refusal, and given a urine test which he passed.
Three months later Adens was forced to provide samples of his pubic hair for drug testing. He was never given an opportunity to sign off on the hair to identify it as his own, and much to his surprise it came back positive. Seven urinalysis tests had been taken over the course of a year and a half, and all came back negative. The sergeant's attorney requested a DNA test to verify the identity of the hair, and the U.S. Army denied his request. Because of the hair-test results, Adens received a bad conduct discharge and was robbed of something he had worked hard at for fourteen years of his life (Kean 35-36).
Hair testing opponents also argue that the test is unfair because it can expose genetic information contained in DNA, such as hereditary defects or a predisposition to certain diseases. Opponents are worried that this data may be used to their disadvantage by insurance companies, as a way to deny them coverage. Companies could also use this information to bar promotions because someone may be likely to suffer a major illness later in life (Curry 163). In conclusion, I would like to point out that companies and schools who are considering implementing a drug testing policy must be very careful and follow all of the rules. The policy should prohibit the use, possession, sale or transfer of illegal drugs in the workplace, and more detailed policies will prohibit all of these on or off company time. The company must also give the employee the ability to explain any positive results.
In some states, employers are required to accommodate an employee's request for unpaid time off for rehab (Flynn 107). Usually it is in everyone's best interest to allow an employee time for rehabilitation because if a good employee is saved, everyone benefits. Positivity Rates by Testing Category Testing Category 1998 1997 1996 1995 Federally Mandated, Safety-Sensitive Workforce 3.4% 3.5% 3.6% 3.4% General Workforce 5.0% 5.2% 6.4% 7.5% Combined U.S. Workforce 4.8% 5.0% 5.8% 6.7% (Johnson) EXIBIT 1 (Johnson) EXIBIT 2 Positivity Rates By Testing Reason (For Federally Mandated, Safety Sensitive Workforce) (More than 650,000 tests from January to December,1998) Testing Reason 1998 1997 For Cause 15.3% 14.4% Periodic 1.4% 1.9% Post-Accident 4.3% 4.3% Pre-Employment 3.8% 3.8% Random 2.7% 2.9% Returned to Duty 4.8% 5.9% Positive Rates By Drug Category (For Federally Mandated, Safety-Sensitive Workforce, as a percentage of all such tests) (More than 650,000 tests from January to December, 1998) Drug Category 1998 1997 Amphetamines 0.25% 0.30% Cocaine 0.78% 0.73% Marijuana 1.87% 2.0% Opiates 0.49% 0.53% PCP 0.05% 0.04% Positive Rates By Drug Category (For General U.S. Workforce, as a percentage of all such tests) (More than 5 million tests from January to December, 1998) Drug Category 1998 1997 Amphetamines 0.20% 0.26% Barbiturates 0.38% 0.35% Benzodiazepines 0.55% 0.59% Cocaine 0.91% 0.90% Marijuana 3.17% 3.4% Methadone 0.06% 0.07% Opiates 0.50% 0.50% PCP 0.01% 0.01% Propoxyphene 0.29% 0.27% (Johnson) EXHIBIT 3 Positive Results By Drug Category (For Federally Mandated, Safety-Sensitive Workers, as a percentage of all positives) (More than 650,000 tests from January to December, 1998) Drug Category 1998 1997 Amphetamines 7.1% 8.1% Cocaine 22.3% 20% Marijuana 54.7% 56% Nitrites 0.32% NA% Opiates 14% 15% PCP 1.6% 1.2% Positive Results By Drug Category (For Combined U.S.
Workforce, as a percentage of All Positives) (More than 5.7 million tests from January to December, 1998) Drug Category 1998 1997 Amphetamines 4.0% 4.9% Barbiturates 3.0% 3.0% Benzodiazepines 3.4% 3.9% Cocaine 17.6% 16% Marijuana 59.2% 60% Methadone 0.36% 0.41% Methaqualone 0.0007% 0.0002% Nitrites 0.63% NA% Opiates 9.7% 9.4% PCP 0.37% 0.34% Propoxyphene 1.7% 1.6% Rates By Testing Positivity Reason (For General Workforce) (More than 5 million tests from January to December, 1998) Testing Reason 1998 1997 For Cause 25.3% 26.7% Periodic 4.9% 5.2% Post-Accident 6.4% 6.8% Pre-Employment 4.6% 4.7% Random 7.3% 8.3% Returned to Duty 7.2% 6.1% (Johnson) EXHIBIT 4 EXHIBT 5 (Johnson) (Johnson) Exhibit 6 Legal Issues.
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