EtG hair testing measures the presence of ethyl glucuronide (EtG), which is produced by the liver when a person drinks alcohol and it deposits itself in in a follicle of hair. It is an alcohol testing methodology most commonly used to test for long-term use or abuse of alcohol.
EtG hair tests can detect long term alcohol use.
Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a metabolite produced by the liver when ethyl alcohol (or ethanol) is processed and metabolized there. It is a byproduct of ethanol (the type of alcohol in beverages). 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 hair.
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 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. EtG is deposited and builds up in the hair of a person who uses alcohol regularly. EtG tests are also not used to determine whether a person is currently intoxicated because they do not detect the presence or amount of alcohol in the bloodstream.
As hair grows longer, the EtG is less present and less accurately measured by the test. The best samples are at least ½ inch in length and extracted close to the scalp.
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