Procedure for Collecting and Sending Hair Samples

These recommendations and procedures apply to the analytical tests performed by the Centre de toxicologie du Québec (CTQ) as part of epidemiologic research and surveys. They deal with the preparation and sending of hair samples. When collecting a hair strand, the CTQ recommends to use the template designed for that purpose. It is a cardboard booklet where you should staple the hair sample.


  • Print the booklet template on cardboard paper.
  • Fold the cardboard as a booklet.
  • Be careful when handling the material and the samples, in order to avoid contamination. Wearing nitrile gloves allows to reduce the risk of contaminating the hair samples.

It is recommended that the person washes the hair before collecting the sample.


The sample is taken from the back of the head, close to the neck.

  • Using clean scissors, cut as close as possible to the scalp, a hair strand of approximately 0,5 cm of diameter or more.
  • Using a stapler, fasten the hair strand on the cardboard, stapling on 2-3 different spots. Do not use adhesive tape nor glue.
  • Do not forget to indicate the root end with an arrow.
  • Using a label or directly on the booklet, clearly identify the sample with a unique identifier.
  • If known, also mention the name of the shampoo used or any other particular treatment, like a perm or coloring.
  • Insert the booklet in a Ziploc-type bag.

 The identifying information of the sample must be visible through the bag.

Please watch our video about the preparation of a capillary sample (duration: 51 sec)…


It is recommended to store the hair at room temperature (19-25oC) to avoid condensation.

Preparing the shipment

Establish an exhaustive list

A list of the samples, on paper, must be joined to the shipment. Furthermore, the CTQ recommends to send a copy of this list by e-mail to the person responsible for projects at the CTQ ([email protected]). This list must contain the following information:

  • The identification of all the samples;
  • The dates of sampling and all other relevant information, such as age and place of sampling;
  • The contact information of the applicant (address, mail, telephone, etc.).

Proper identifying of samples

Each sample must be identified from the booklet or from a self-adhesive label printed with a laser printer, in order to prevent the discolouring of the ink. A barcode identification should be the preferred option.

Choosing the right courier service

For the shipment of samples, the CTQ recommends a fast and reliable courier service, that ensures a close tracking of the shipments and a proof of delivery (ex.: Federal Express, UPS, World Courier, etc.).

Verify the requirements of cross-border customs

 Carefully verify with the courier service all the requirements of the cross-border customs. The courier company is the best suited to inform you about the applicable laws in every country where the samples will transit through.


A few days before the shipping, please send the shipment tracking number to the CTQ by e-mail, in order for the CTQ to be able to quickly take action, should an issue arise during transportation.

How to pack the samples

  • Place the samples in order in a box;
  • Fill the empty space with padding brown paper;
  • Add a list of the samples;
  • Close the box;
  • Place the sender and receiver labels;
  • Add the commercial invoice for the shipping.

How to properly identify the package or the cooler

  • Place your address as the sender
  • Place the receiver’s address:

Laboratoire de toxicologie, Centre de toxicologie / INSPQ
945 avenue Wolfe, 4e étage
Québec, QC, G1V 5B3

  • In order to minimize the waiting time at customs, the CTQ recommends to add the mention “EXEMPT HUMAN SPECIMENS” on the outside of the box, and the mention “EXEMPT HUMAN SPECIMENS, HUMAN HAIR, FOR RESEARCH ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL VALUE” on the commercial invoice.

Please watch our video about the packaging and sending of capillary samples (duration: 1 min 9 sec)…

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