Last updated: February 24, 2020
Alcohol may be tested for using urine, there are several options. It is important to clearly order the appropriate alcohol test for your employees, offenders or patients.
Ethyl Alcohol Test – also known as a UA or urine alcohol test. The detection time is 1 – 12 hours. There are several concerns with using urine alcohol for workplace testing and in evaluating whether a person is impaired by alcohol or has consumed beverage alcohol, including the following:
- A positive urine alcohol test is not indicative of alcohol impairment nor does it definitively indicate beverage alcohol consumption.
- If an individual is a diabetic and has a yeast or bacterial infection, fermentation can take place. Fermentation is the process of the yeast/bacteria consuming glucose resulting in the production of alcohol. It is possible that the glucose may no longer be detectable as the yeast/bacteria may have already consumed all the glucose.
- Individuals spilling sugar into the urine for whatever reason can also cause fermentation if yeast or bacteria are present and if the transit time is prolonged. The longer the specimen is in transit the chances of fermentation occurring are greater.
- Urine testing for alcohol is not covered under current laboratory certification standards and testing protocols.
- It is currently the least effective method in determining the amount of alcohol in the body.
- The blood to urine ratio has a wide range and can be affected by many factors, therefore, it is difficult to equate a urine test result for alcohol to a particular blood or breath alcohol level.
USA Mobile Drug Testing recommends breath alcohol testing for workplace clients who wish to determine impairment or prohibited use of alcohol. This is also the DOT drug testing requirement. In Florida, under the Florida Drug Free Workplace Program; a blood alcohol test is required. Other States might have particular rules concerning alcohol testing, please always check your State Laws.
Zero Tolerance and Abstinence Testing
Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) – a direct metabolite of beverage alcohol (ethanol). Its presence in urine may be used to detect recent alcohol consumption, even after ethanol is no longer measurable. The presence of EtG in urine is a definitive indicator that alcohol was ingested. Detection time is up to 80 hours. This is an ideal test for Ideal for zero tolerance and abstinence situations.
Regarding EtG it important to realize that Tests show that “incidental exposure” to the chronic use of food product (vanilla extract), hygiene products, mouthwash, or OTC medications (cough syrups) can produce EtG concentrations in excess of 100 ng/mL. Most alcohol abstinence programs require an agreement to avoid all products containing alcohol, including: mouthwash, Nyquil, OTC medications, etc. Consumption of these products could produce a positive test for alcohol and/or EtG and would thus violate this agreement.
As with all drug test results, it is best to think of EtG results as simply Negative or Non-Negative. The level of EtG reported, which might, for example, be as low as 600, or as high as 100,000 does not necessarily reflect greater or lesser drinking. Many factors can affect the level of EtG detected in an individual’s urine sample, so avoid making undue assumptions based on EtG detection levels reports.
Ethyl Sulfate (EtS) – In addition to EtG, recent scientific studies have identified ethyl sulfate (EtS) as a second specific metabolite or biomarker of ethanol. For this reason, our labs test and report EtS, in conjunction with EtG, to confirm recent ethanol ingestion or exposure. The detection of EtG and EtS offers greater sensitivity and accuracy for determination of recent ethanol ingestion, than by detection of either biomarker alone.