With drug and alcohol screening becoming fairly standard across fields such as Sport, Law Enforcement and Human Resources, it is important for people to be conversant with the kinds of tests that they may, in future, be subjected to.
- One of the most common tests that are carried out to detect the consumption of alcohol, particularly in Law Enforcement, is the ETG Test.
What are ETG Tests?
ETG Tests are biomarker tests that are used to identify the presence of Ethyl Glucuronide, a metabolite that is the by-product of the processing of alcohol by the human body. An ETG test can point to the consumption of alcohol even when ethanol is no longer measurable in an individual’s system.
How Human Bodies Rid Themselves of Alcohol.
The human system classifies alcohol as an unwanted, potentially toxic substance, and it works hard to cleanse itself in a number of ways.
- About 10% is excreted directly, through sweating, breathing and urinating.
- The rest is converted by the liver into acetaldehyde/acetic acid, Ethyl Glucuronide and ethyl sulphate.
ETG Tests exploit this last point to detect the presence of alcohol in a human being’s biological matter.
How are ETG tests carried out?
ETG testing involves the collection of a urine sample from an individual. The sample is then screened for the presence of the organic compound, Ethyl Glucuronide.
- A presence of the metabolite is taken to indicate that alcohol consumption has taken place within the prescribed period.
How far back can an ETG Test Look?
Ethyl Glucuronide remains measurable in an individual’s system for up to five days following the consumption of alcohol, which makes ETG testing practical and reliable.
- By comparison, breath and saliva tests become ineffective after only a few hours.
Waiting Period for Results
While not as quick as breath tests, ETG testing is relative fast, and you can expect to get your results within 48 hours.
Comparison with Other Alcohol Detection Methods
One advantage that ETG tests have over blood screening is that they can be carried out relatively cheaply, are non invasive and have readily available samples.
- Most of the other screening methods, including breath and blood tests, have to be carried out relatively quickly, before the body has had the chance to get rid of the alcohol.
When can I be asked to undergo ETG Testing?
- A court may order you to undergo a test if you dispute the results of a breathalyzer test.
- You may be asked, after an accident at work, to submit to an ETG test to determine if alcohol was a factor.
- Your insurance may also ask you to undergo ETG testing as part of the claims process.
It is important to point out here that ETG tests have, in the past, come under scrutiny over the possibility of inaccuracies.
- There have been claims that ETG tests cannot distinguish between alcohol consumption and exposure to the substance through common household cleaning agents.
Despite this, Ethyl Glucuronide tests remain the most widely used screening method for the detection of alcohol consumption.