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Quantitative analysis of methamphetamine in hair of children removed from clandestine laboratories--evidence of passive exposure?


In New Zealand many children have been removed from clandestine laboratories following Police intervention. In the last few years it has become standard procedure that these children have hair samples taken and these samples are submitted to the laboratory for analysis. There are various mechanisms for the incorporation of drugs into hair. The hair follicle has a rich blood supply, so any drug that may be circulating in the blood can be incorporated into the growing hair. Another mechanism is via external contamination, such as spilling a drug on the hair or through exposure to fumes or vapours. Hair samples were analysed for methamphetamine and amphetamine. From the 52 cases analysed 38 (73%) were positive for methamphetamine (>0.1 ng/mg) and amphetamine was detected in 34 of these cases. In no case was amphetamine detected without methamphetamine. The hair washes (prior to extraction) were also analysed (quantified in 30 of the positive cases) and only 3 had a wash to hair ratio of >0.1 (all were <0.5), which may be indicative of a low level of external contamination. This low level of evidence of external contamination suggests that the children are exposed to methamphetamine and are incorporating it into the hair through the blood stream.

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