can be used to check if people are blood relatives. Forensic hair analysis
can be done to help identify a criminal by evaluating hair structure and DNA.
Hair samples are tested with specific chemicals and looked at under a
microscope. Hair analysis can also be used to check for poisoning caused by metals such as lead or mercury.
But hair analysis alone usually is not used for this type of testing.
Hair is a protein that grows out of
hair follicles in the skin. Normally, a hair grows in the hair follicle for
many months, stops growing, and falls out. A new hair then grows in the
follicle. It takes weeks for a hair sample to show changes in the body, because
hair grows slowly. Hair samples do not show recent changes in the body, such as
drug use within the past few days. But a hair analysis may show drug use or exposure to chemicals that occurred over the last few months.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt, MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology
November 8, 2011
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