DR JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR JURGEN SCRIBA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Forensic science. A hair sample from a suspected drug abuser is prepared for analysis in a forensic laboratory. As hair grows it incorporates traces of chemicals produced when drugs in the body are broken down. Because these chemicals remain in a fixed position in the hair shaft, a lock of hair cut from near the scalp can be used to reveal the history of drug user's habits over a period of weeks. Here, the hair is cut into 1cm pieces corresponding to specific dates. The drug metabolites are then extracted by solvents and identified by gas chromatography and mass spectrometry.
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