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Types of Alcohol Testing

There are many reasons why a person may be subjected to alcohol testing. From probation and parole to rehabilitation commitments, accidents on the job, and more, sometimes we need to know in order to help the test subject enjoy the best quality of life possible. However, depending on the needs of the person requesting the test, there are a number of methods that must be examined, and these include:

  • Breath alcohol testing
  • Blood alcohol testing
  • EtG urine and hair testing
  • Saliva testing.

Here at ARCpoint Labs of Columbia, SC, we employ a staff of highly trained personnel who can use their expertise to help you weigh your options and come to an optimal solution based on your needs. Contact us today for a customized plan for your business and organizational alcohol testing needs.

Breath Alcohol Testing

Of the many alcohol testing methods available, breath alcohol testing (BAT) is among the most common. This is because of its convenience and accuracy. It also allows the tester to determine current inebriation levels and can be a great tool for law enforcement and business owners.

This method measures the concentration of alcohol, both ethanol and ethyl, contained in the lungs by measuring the carbon dioxide exhaled. While it doesn’t produce direct measures of the concentration of alcohol present in the bloodstream, it allows the tester to make a reliable conclusion as to these amounts due to the way the body metabolizes alcohol. Since ethanol molecules are so small, they are able to penetrate cell membranes with ease. Within just minutes of taking a drink, ethanol is able to makes its way into the various tissues of the body including those found in the lungs.

Breath alcohol testing is an excellent way to determine the immediate levels of alcohol present in the test subject’s system. However, if you need to determine longer-term use, this method doesn’t work as it only detects alcohol presence for around 12 to 24 hours.

Blood Alcohol Testing

Like breath alcohol testing, blood alcohol tests are able to detect alcohol in the subject’s system for a period of around 12 to 24 hours after drinking. It works by measuring the concentration of ethanol found in the bloodstream and is known to provide the most accurate results. Blood testing serves as a great way to detect current intoxication levels as alcohol makes its way into the blood within just a few minutes after taking a drink. While levels begin to elevate, it takes about an hour after drinking ceases for levels to peak, and this time frame varies depending on factors such as current stomach contents. Furthermore, it’s worth noting that those with a yeast infection or diabetes can trigger a false positive reading.

EtG Testing for Alcohol – Urine & Hair

Immediate inebriation results are not always needed by those requesting testing. If you need to know if the subject has consumed alcohol within a certain time frame, EtG testing of urine or hair can provide the answers you’re looking for. This can prove to be a great option for:

  • Abstinence programs
  • Rehabilitation programs
  • Child custody cases

When EtG, or ethyl glucuronide, is produced in the liver when ethanol is introduced, it binds with toxins to be carried out of the body through urine, sweat, and the bloodstream. This occurs even when very small amounts of alcohol are consumed, and the EtG can ultimately be detected in the urine.  

EtG Urine Tests

Unlike blood and breath tests, EtG urine tests can detect EtG for up to 80 hours after drinking. Depending on various factors, this timeframe can be extended for up to five days. While they are ideal for longer-term results, they are unable to portray how much alcohol was consumed. This makes the test ideal for subjects who are not allowed to engage in drinking such as someone on parole. Before testing, however, it’s important to determine if the subject has diabetes or a yeast infection as this can trigger a false positive reading.

EtG Hair Tests

One of the ways ethyl glucuronide makes its way out of the body is through the blood. Because of this, EtG can build up in the test subject’s hair. This method is ideal if you are testing for chronic use as EtG can remain in the hair for up to 90 days. However, the amounts accumulated through a single drinking session are often not enough to accurately be read, so this method is more appropriate when checking for problems such as chronic binge drinking.

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