DENVER – Jenn Christiansen says she didn't have a choice. When the court ordered her to take a hair follicle drug test, she went to BI Incorporated in Lakewood, because that's the only lab the court was willing to pay for. Now, she regrets doing so.
Christiansen told KMGH-TV that the lab technicians took too much hair, leaving her with a bald spot on the crown of her head.
"There's no reason they needed that much," she said.
The Denver woman, an admitted marijuana user, is involved in a case with Child Protective Services and is trying to regain custody of her kids. That's why she was ordered to take the drug test.
Now, she's questioning whether there should be more regulation of drug testing labs.
"Anybody who's had their hair pulled knows you can feel how much is being pulled," she said. "I could tell that they had too much and that there was going to be a bald spot on my head."
Christiansen said she cried as they cut her hair and cried again today as she talked about it with KMGH.
"I'm very proud of my hair," she said. "I'm a very vain person and they destroyed my confidence."
Neither the Department of Regulatory Agencies nor the state Health Department regulate how much hair can be "harvested" for a drug test.
"We wouldn't regulate/oversee drug testing," said DORA spokeswoman Rebecca Laurie. "CLIA handles that."
CLIA is the the Centers for Disease Control's Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments.
KMGH checked with the CDC to see if there are any regulations or recommendations regarding the size of hair samples taken for drug tests and whether the entire hair sample has to come from the same area on the head.
The CDC hasn't gotten back to us.
KMGH also reached out to BI Incorporated to see if they have any policies regarding the hair follicle drug tests. In an email reply, a spokeswoman said she would look into it and get back to us.
Several other testing labs have posted pictures on their websites depicting the hair sample process.
One shows a technician snipping a narrow, horizontal band of hair from the back of a client's head.
Another shows a technician cutting a small, pencil thin, circular patch from the client's head.
A technician at one firm told KMGH, "A bald spot is a no-no."
She said they'll snip hair from different parts of the head to get what they need, without leaving a bald spot.
Christiansen said someone should be regulating the labs to protect people from overzealous lab techs.
"I have to wear my hair up now, to cover the spot," she said.