EtG hair testing is an alcohol testing methodology most commonly used to test for long term use or abuse of alcohol. It measures the presence of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) present in a follicle of hair. EtG is produced by the liver when a person drinks alcohol and it deposits itself in the hair.
EtG hair tests can detect long term alcohol use.
EtG, or ethyl glucuronide, is a metabolite —a byproduct of ethanol (the type of alcohol in beverages). It is produced by the liver when ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) is processed and metabolized there. Glucuronide, a common biological compound made in the liver, binds various toxins and drugs in the body so they can be excreted in the urine. When someone drinks alcohol, even relatively small amounts , glucuronide binds with ethyl alcohol and EtG is formed. Once formed it travels to and can be detected in the urine or in the hair.
EtG is deposited and builds up in the hair of a person’ who uses alcohol regularly. It can be detected going back as long as 90 days. EtG tests are not used to determine whether a person is currently intoxicated. It does not detect the presence or amount of alcohol in the bloodstream. Instead, EtG hair tests are generally best used only to determine whether a person has used alcohol chronically over a period of time. It is not the best test to determine one-time use over a period of time, or even to determine abstinence if that is required. EtG urine tests tend to be more accurate for that purpose, but do not cover the length of time a hair test can cover — up to 90 days in some cases.
The amount of hair required to administer the test is as little as a half inch. The best results come from testing hair extracted from closest to the scalp. As hair grows longer, the EtG is less present and less accurately measured by the test.
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