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Is the EtG Urine Alcohol Test Reliable?


Updated February 12, 2014

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The EtG urine alcohol test detects ethyl glucuronide in urine samples.

Question: Is the EtG Urine Alcohol Test Reliable?
Answer: The EtG urine alcohol test has come under criticism because it is so sensitive that it can give positive results for merely coming in contact with common household products that contain alcohol, such as aftershave and mouthwash. This biomarker test detects ethyl glucuronide in urine samples and can detect alcohol several days after the last drink.

The test is so sensitive that critics claim it produces a significant number of false positives. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration issued an advisory in 2006 that the EtG test should not be used as the sole basis for taking any legal action against someone who has a positive result.

The manufacturer of the test, Redwoood Toxicology Laboratory, is facing at least one lawsuit claiming its test is "inherently faulty." The lawsuit claims that Redwood does not inform its customers -- law enforcement, probation offices, and employers -- that the test will return positive results for coming in contact with household products that contain alcohol.

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