Collections and Submissions

Guidelines for Test Sample Collections and Submissions

Test Sample Collection -hair, nails, urine, cremains, infidelity, DNA Q-Tip and more.

Guidelines for Test Sample Collections and Submissions

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Always allow a minimum of thirty (30) days to pass following the alleged incident date before you collect a hair strand sample for testing.

  • We can test your urine sample if collected within three (3) days (72 hours) of the incident event.
  • The average hair strand growth rate for human hair is about one-half inch/month. Therefore, if the hair strand test sample is 5″ in length and the stranded sample was collected today we would be able to test back chronologically about ten (10) months in time to see what your physiological exposure has been.
  • We can evaluate the entire length or selected segments of the hair strands, e.g. 3″ is equal to a six (6) month time span, to seek out detections of drugs, toxins, heavy metals, poisons, and unknowns over an extended period of time.
  • We also offer a comprehensive drug evaluation. The testing chronology choice for your submitted sample is your decision. Please review the Chain of Custody explanation.
  • A “Morning First” urine collection can be collected within 3 days of the incident date and submitted for testing and evaluation.
  • Liquid and/or semi-solid, and most solid food test samples should be packaged in a new drug prescription bottle for shipping. Generally speaking, a two-tablespoon test sample is adequate.
  • Be sure to shake or mix the subject sample thoroughly before collecting your test sample.
  • Test samples will be retained no longer than fourteen (14) business days following testing completion. Please let us know if you wish to have your test samples retained for a longer period of time or returned to you at your expense via USPS.

Alternate body hair strands as test samples e.g. hair strands collected from the arms, legs, chest, back, eyebrows, and pubic area can be submitted as a test sample. Keep in mind that the growth rate of these samples varies depending on hair types and physical location. The chronology for these samples is as follows. The body tends to replace these hair strands about every 5-6 months so the best-case scenario would let you go back about 5-6 months to see what your physiology has experienced during this period.

Using fingernails ( 6 months) nail shavings for the entire 6 month period. If you submit toe clippings and shavings the average period would be about 8-10 months depending on your growth rate.

Be sure to remove all nail polish, clear or colored, before collecting your nail clipping and scraping samples. Using light pressure with a sharp edge (knife, scissors) scrape the nail surface from the cuticle to the Distal edge (nail end). Place the scrapings and clippings together in a new prescription bottle. They will be tested as one sample. Please note, Be sure to submit an adequate test sample. Testing is done by weight so the test sample weight must be adequate.

There will be an additional charge of $35.00 dollars if we are required to notify you and process a new or additional test sample.  Hair follicles often called roots, are not required for hair strand testing. We require cutting full-length hair strands as close as possible to the scalp while being careful to avoid pinching or cutting the scalp.

Each 1/2″ of hair strand growth relates to an approximate 30-day chronological time segment in the life of the sample donor. The growth which determines the chronological time period related to the incident event is always measured from the scalp or skin out thus the importance of tightly wrapping the skin or scalp end of your hair strand sample with a small piece of foil. By doing this your sample will arrive in our office with the scalp end intact which helps us establish your sample chronology, the scalp end or the end of your trim or cut.

Collecting DNA samples for reference

The cortex of the hair strands is not normally affected by tints, dyes, lighters, colors, permanents, or highlights since these chemical applications are topical in nature. Should we detect any of these items their detection can be ultimately ruled out as such.

  • There is no licensing required to collect a hair strand sample since it is a non-invasive procedure. Anyone can assist you with your hair strand test sample collection
  • You might ask your hairstylist to assist you with your hair strand sample collection. He or she or one of their other salon operators can also sign off on the Chain of Custody form as your official witness.
  • We strongly recommend that you take pictures (send us a copy for your file record) with a time/date digital still or video camera of your hair sample collection in progress showing the face of the sample donor for identification in support of Chain of Custody.
  • Be sure to use a digital still or video camera for your pictures that show the sample donor’s face only. This picture is another form of forensic evidence.

The minimum, acceptable, hair strand sample for testing is a group of hair strands at least the diameter of a pencil when held between your finger and thumb, at least a quarter of an inch or so. Collect your strand sample at the skin or scalp level, HAIR ROOTS or FOLLICLES are not required. Full-length hair samples are strongly recommended with the skin or scalp end tightly foiled for chronology identification and shipping. If your sample is not adequate you will be required to send more.

When collecting a hair strand sample use a sharp pair of scissors, an electric shaver, or straight edge, that has been cleaned with a rubbing alcohol swab or soapy water rinse. Collect the stranded sample at the crown (vertex posterior) or back of the head at the skin, scalp line, or nape of the neck area depending on your hairstyle. Your hair strands are homogeneous.

Hair strand test samples are based on weight. Collect a group of full-length hair strands at least a ¼” in. in diameter (minimum) when held between the thumb and finger. If you can collect a slightly larger sample please submit that amount. Submitting a larger hair strand sample is better than too little. This will allow us to have extra for any additional testing you may request.

Place the collected and foiled full-length hair strands (scalp/skin ends) into the center of a small piece of aluminum foil about 2 inches square then tightly fold the foil up around the hair strands to identify the scalp or root end. The tight foil wrap keeps the cut or skin ends of the strands together during shipping. Do not place the Chain of Custody form, your check or money order, or completed credit card payment form into the sample envelope. Place these items into a separate envelope for mailing.

Place the tightly foiled skin or scalp ends of the hair strands into a clean, unused, white, mailing envelope which has the name of the sample donor and collection date printed on the face of the envelope. Seal the sample envelope with masking or duck tape. Have your witness sign their signature and print their name, sample sealing time, and date on the face of the sealing tape. This step is to prevent tampering with the enclosed test sample and to originate Chain of Custody.

You may choose to submit a private test form with your test sample. Using the private test form does not provide any witnessed forensic evidence that you may wish to use in any potential court hearing.

Place the completed Chain of Custody Form, the sealed and signed sample envelope, a check or money order payable to The Carlson Company Inc or your completed credit card information form in a second envelope and mail to: Test sample submitters will be charged an additional fee of $35.00 for shipping and handling for the return of test samples. Please add this fee to your check or credit card should you desire to have your test sample returned.

All submitted liquid, powder, or cremains bone sliver samples are to be protected from contamination and leakage as best possible. Acquire a new, prescription, the bottle from your favorite pharmacist. Prescription bottles are relatively sterile and minimize cross-contamination when used for test sample submission. Be sure to tape the cap to the bottle to prevent leakage during shipping. Some samples may need to be cooled or frozen during shipping e.g. urine, blood, tissue, and others to preserve test sample integrity. How to ship? We recommend UPS or FedEx since both services offer a tracking number should your test sample be lost in shipping.

Test samples will be retained no longer than fourteen (14) business days following testing completion. Please let us know if you wish to have your test samples retained for a longer period of time or returned to you at your expense via USPS.

Test sample submitters will be charged an additional fee of $25.00 for shipping and handling for the return of test samples. Please add this fee to your check or credit card should you desire to have your test sample returned.

Place non-liquid samples, e.g. hair and nails, in an unused white mailing envelope and seal.
Cremains, liquid, and powder samples should be shipped in a new, unused, prescription bottle with the lid taped to the bottle to prevent leakage.
Print the name of the sample donor on the face of the envelope plus the date.
Please refrain from the use of plastic bags except as an overwrap for leak protection. Plastic can trap moisture and possibly compromise the integrity of the sample by aiding in the production of mold, mildew, and bacteria.

Liquid samples should be shipped in a suitable container with the cap taped to the container to ensure against leakage. Ask your pharmacist for a prescription bottle for this purpose. New prescription containers are reasonably sterile, minimize sample cross-contamination, and offer durable, leak-proof, shipping. Infidelity samples: If possible submit a 2×2″ sample of the stained area which you feel would be the best example of the deposit. Place the sample in a clean, white, envelope for shipping.

The amount of sample required for most powders and liquids is 1-2 tablespoons ideally. Depending on the sample and required testing we may be able to proceed with testing using a lesser amount.

How to collect a cotton Q-Tip (buccal) reference DNA sample