Last updated: September 25, 2023
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 for zero tolerance and abstinence situations.
Regarding EtG it is 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.
- Ideal for zero tolerance and abstinence situations
- Strong indicator of alcohol ingestion within the previous 3 to 4 days
- Acts as an early warning system to detect trends towards relapse
- Tests are performed by LC/MS/MS on state of the art equipment for accuracy and reliability
- Thirty-six hour turnaround time from receipt of specimen
- EtG may be run on urine specimens in conjunction with other drug testing panels
- Detects recent usage more accurately and for a longer period of time than standard testing
- EtG is only evident when alcohol is consumed and is not produced as a result of fermentation
- Allows monitoring in alcohol treatment programs
EtG alcohol testing should not be used for standard workplace alcohol testing. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has issued an advisor warning: The EtG (ethyl glucuronide) urine test, often used to detect alcohol use among individuals legally prohibited from drinking because of their job or parole status, is “inappropriate” as the sole basis for a definitive, life-altering decision. SAMHSA issued the warning after investigating claims of false-positive test results.
The EtG test and other similar highly sensitive tests are not able to distinguish between alcohol absorbed into the body from exposure to many common commercial and household products containing alcohol or from the actual consumption of alcohol. Calling such a test “positive” for consumption or relapse, especially at low concentrations, could have devastating consequences for someone who signs an alcohol abstinence contract or is required to be abstinent by law.
“This Advisory is a clarification,” said addiction psychiatrist Kenneth Hoffman, M.D., M.P.H., of SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Division of Pharmacologic Therapies. “The Agency wants officials to know that the EtG test, for example, is fine for use in clinical settings. But it should not be used as a stand-alone test in a forensic situation where someone’s job is at stake.”
USA Mobile Drug Testing agrees with SAMHSA and does not provide EtG testing for employer based drug testing programs and drug free workplace programs. For workplace alcohol testing should be done with breath alcohol testing or with blood alcohol testing.