Posts Tagged ‘Ethyl glucuronide’

Urine Tests Produce Too Many False Positives

June 21st, 2011
IMG_2407 - Urine

The EtG test is a biomarker test that detects the presence of ethyl glucuronide in urine samples. Usually, it is used to monitor alcohol consumption in individuals who are legally prohibited from drinking alcohol by the justice system or restricted from drinking by their employers. (Source)  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.” The Role of Biomarkers in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders (PDF), September 2006, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

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, cautioning that the test is “scientifically unsupportable as the sole basis for legal or disciplinary action” because the highly-sensitive tests “are not able to distinguish between alcohol absorbed into the body from exposure to many common commercial and household products containing alcohol or from the actual consumption of alcohol.”  Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. The Role of Biomarkers in the Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders. Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory. Volume 5, Issue 4, 2006

Worse yet is the duration of sensitivity.  The biomarker test detects ethyl glucuronide in urine samples and can detect alcohol several days after the last drink.   The EtG test came under scrutiny when a significant number of people, who insisted they had abstained from drinking alcohol, failed the test. SAMHSA used many of those protested cases to research the accuracy of the EtG test and determine the cause of the false positives.  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.

Dayton DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook, www.facebook.com/daytondui.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@CharlesRowland.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.

Alcohol Tests Under Heightened Scrutiny

February 11th, 2011

blood, human, splatter, dropsThe following article, by Andy Coghlan appeared today’s version of New Scientist. [HERE]  It represents possible scientific defenses to blood and urine alcohol tests.  Dayton DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II is committed to learning as much as possible about scientific advances in DUI defense.  He is currently the only attorney in the State of Ohio to be certified in Forensic Sobriety Assessment.

Fail an alcohol test and you could lose your job. But confidence is draining from the blood and urine tests that are supposed to show conclusively whether someone has been drinking – and the US government has decided it’s time to take another look at them.

Typically, the body destroys alcohol within 6 hours, so the tests are designed to pick up tiny amounts of substances such as ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulphate (EtS) that are formed exclusively from the breakdown of alcohol. These remain detectable in urine for almost a week.

But the tests can return a positive result in people who haven’t drunk any alcohol but have been exposed to minute quantities of it in alcohol-based hand-wipes and mouthwashes, alcohol-free wine, and even foods such as bananas and sauerkraut.

In the US, several legal cases are under way in which doctors, nurses and other professionals who were being monitored for abstinence but tested positive are protesting their innocence.

Inappropriate action

The US health department’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is already aware of the problem. In 2006 it issued advice which declared as “inappropriate” and “scientifically unsupportable” any legal or disciplinary action based solely on an EtG or EtS test. But at a meeting convened by SAMHSA last month to review the latest scientific and legal evidence, lawyers asked for clearer, quantitative advice to distinguish accidental from deliberate consumption.

“The courts need guidance from SAMHSA,” says William Meyer, a senior fellow of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. “Can SAMHSA set a cut-off level which will reliably predict knowing alcohol consumption, and exclude accidental exposure?” he asked.

The sauerkraut factor

At present, there are no official cut-off figures for lawyers to refer to. A widely used unofficial figure for both EtG and EtS is 0.1 milligrams per litre of urine – but recent research in Norway has shown that drinkers of non-alcoholic wine exceed this level for EtS (Journal of Analytical Toxicology, vol 34, p 84). Likewise, research in Germany has shown that eating bananas or sauerkraut can push EtG beyond the cut-off (International Journal of Legal Medicine, DOI: 10.1007/s00414-010-0511-z).

Greg Skipper, medical director of the Alabama Physician Health Program, runs a website advising people who think they have been unfairly incriminated by the tests. He doubts whether a definitive cut-off can be found, because the overlap between innocent and deliberate exposure is too large to give legal certainty.

He says that there is hope, however, from more recent research on blood tests for another alcohol breakdown product called phosphatidyl ethanol, or PEth. It’s formed when alcohol combines with fatty lipids on red blood cell membranes, and stays there for the whole month-long life of the cell.

Skipper says that levels of PEth above 20 nanograms per millilitre of blood are pretty conclusive proof that someone has drunk at least seven standard drinks over a week, a level impossible from accidental exposure. “PEth needs more research, but it looks like it will be an excellent direct marker that will indicate significant drinking,” he says.

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