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Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)

Published in Association with the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM)

Editor-in-Chief: Plebani, Mario

Editorial Board Member: Gillery, Philippe / Kazmierczak, Steven / Lackner, Karl J. / Lippi, Giuseppe / Melichar, Bohuslav / Schlattmann, Peter / Whitfield, John B.

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Rank 5 out of 29 in category Medical Laboratory Technology in the 2013 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Science Edition



Hair analysis in toxicology

Marion Villain1 / Vincent Cirimele2 / Pascal Kintz3




Corresponding author: Pascal Kintz, Laboratoire de Toxicologie, Institut de Médecine Légale, 11, rue Humann, 67000 Strasbourg, France. Phone: +33-3-90-24-33-56, Fax: +33-3-90-24-33-62, E-mail:

Citation Information: Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. Volume 42, Issue 11, Pages 1265–1272, ISSN (Print) 1434-6621, DOI: 10.1515/CCLM.2004.247, June 2005

Publication History

Published Online:


Morphological, serological and chemical examination of human hair for medical purposes was initiated some decades ago. In the 1960s and 1970s, hair analysis was used to evaluate exposure to toxic heavy metals. At this time, examination of hair for organic substances, especially drugs, was not possible because analytical methods were not sensitive enough. Since the early 1980s, the development of highly sensitive and specific assay methods such as radioimmunoassay or gas chromatography/mass spectrometry has permitted the analysis of organic substances trapped in hair. This, theoretically, offered the possibility of revealing an individual’s recent history of drug exposure beginning at sampling day and dating back over a period of weeks or months. The present review aims to summarise the various applications that have been published.

Keywords: abuse; chromatography; drugs; exposure; hair analysis; mass spectrometry; toxicology

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