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Types of Alcohol Testing

Types of Alcohol Testing in Minneapolis Metro area

Alcohol testing can be done by breath test, blood test or urine test. Each test provides slightly different information, so the reasoning for the test and the time-frame results are needed often determine which type is  best. Below we explore these tests and the factors that may lead to someone selecting them. ARCpoint Labs’ of [city] trained personnel are always available for consultation to make trained recommendations based on their experience. Call or drop in to our location. No appointment necessary during our regular business hours.

Breath Alcohol Testing

Alcohol is distributed throughout the body after consumption as ethanol. Because these molecules are fairly small, it can move between membranes in the body’s cells easily. After someone takes a drink of alcohol, the bloodstream absorbs it, and it is sent to various tissues throughout the body, including the lungs. This is why breath alcohol testing, sometimes abbreviated as BAT, is a commonly-used method of alcohol testing.

It is a convenient and accurate way to measure the concentration of alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol) in the air in your lungs. It’s not a direct measure of the concentration of alcohol in your bloodstream. Because of the way alcohol is metabolized, it is a very reliable indicator of blood alcohol levels. A breath alcohol test determines immediate levels of alcohol in your system but cannot be used to determine longer-term use. Typically, a breath alcohol test can detect the presence of alcohol in a person’s system for  approximately 12-24 hours depending on several factors.

Female blowing into breathalyzer machine
Image of blue gloved fingers holding test tube labeled blood alcohol test.

Blood Alcohol Testing (BAC)

In most states, those pulled over for DUI are given the choice between BAT and blood alcohol testing (BAC).  They might choose BAC because it gives more precise results for the blood alcohol content, and it provides two samples so one is available for personal or secondary testing if needed. While this test is accurate, diabetes and yeast infections can lead to false positives. Like BAT, this test can detect alcohol 12-24 hours after consumption.

EtG Testing for Alcohol – Urine & Hair

EtG, or ethyl glucuronide, is a byproduct of ethanol (the type of alcohol in beverages) when it is metabolized in the liver. 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, even relatively small amounts of EtG is formed and can be detected in the urine or in the hair.

EtG Hair Tests. Ethyl glucuronide can be detected after building up in a person’s hair for up to 90 days and can serve as an indicator of chronic alcohol exposure.

EtG Urine Tests. EtG urine tests are sometimes referred to as the “80 hour test” because EtG is usually detectable in urine for up to 80 hours after drinking – sometimes as long as 5 days. These are used to document abstinence, be it legal or personally motivated, but are not a good option for determining if someone is presently intoxicated.

Physician holding urine sample in a bottle.

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