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There are a number of methods to test for the use of alcohol and drug. The choice of a drug test depends on the need and purpose of the test.

Nail drug testing is becoming more popular for drug testing especially with companies who are requiring drug testing for safety-sensitive jobs.

Nail drug testing takes a sample of an individual’s nail clippings from either a person’s finger nails or toes. The sample must be separated for each.

Accuracy and Reliability

Drugs and their metabolites are found in the bed of a person’s nails. The test can accurately predict the presence of drugs from 1 – 2 weeks and can even be detected as far back as 3 – 6 months.

This is a non-invasive test and has minimal risks of contamination. The longer detection time provides for accuracy in chronic drug use. A urine test does not provide the same look back in the test as a nail test.

Comparison with other tests

  • Nail drug testing analyzes an individual’s nail clippings using the keratin layer of an individual’s nails. Nails retain the drug in the keratin layer for months. The biomarkers are what is then analyzed for absence or presence of drugs.
  • Nail drug tests provide accurate results for a longer time than a urine drug test. The fact that the drug retention goes as far back as 3 – 6 months, provides longer answer to the systemic use of drugs especially in chronic usage.

Limitations and Considerations

  • Nail drug testing is not best used for detecting patterns of drug or substance use. It is just an indicator to indicate the use of drugs but the timing of the use cannot be determined and it can for hair. If an individual is a drug / substance user but is on and then off the use, nail tests are probably not a best option.
  • Nail test are not best media for single use drug tests.
  • Smartest labs can assist in the selection of appropriate tests for the circumstances. Our highly qualified testers are AABB certified and are skilled at recognizing which test fits the right circumstance.

Suitability of Nail Drug Testing for Different Purposes

Nail testing is best used if a long detection time is required since test accuracy can provide a look back of usage between 3 – 9 months accurately. However, it cannot used for specific single use drugs not the date the drug was used.

Other tests like Urine and Hair can we used for testing if nail is not suitable.


SmarTest Labs located near you and serving Gaithersburg and the surrounding areas can assist a donor, company and other organizations on the appropriate testing method. Please call for further assistance at 301 -686-8566.