When it comes to testing for alcohol, we know thereʼs no one-size-fits-all approach.
Some employers are testing for recent consumption, while others are more concerned about preventing all alcohol consumption entirely.
With that in mind, itʼs a good thing there are so many ways to test for alcohol. Some test for alcohol consumption more than three days afterwards, while others are instant. To help you sort out what will work best for you and your business or organization, hereʼs a breakdown of the various types of alcohol testing.
Multiple Options for Alcohol Testing
EtG Alcohol Testing: Test Up to 80 Hours After Consumption
The latest in alcohol testing types is the EtG instant urine testing dip cards, which can detect alcohol up to 80 hours after consumption. The long detection time is an obvious advantage over saliva or oral fluid tests, with which ethanol alcohol is only detectable for a few hours after ingestion. Since EtG tests are actually measuring levels of ethyl glucuronide, a metabolite of alcohol instead of alcohol itself, itʼs detectable much longer.
Urine Alcohol Testing
When youʼre trying to prove that someone has consumed alcohol very recently, urine is often the most practical specimen. The concentration of alcohol in the urine is almost equal to that in the blood.
The highest alcohol levels happen usually between 45 and 60 minutes after ingestion -- when theyʼre about 1.3 times higher than the personʼs blood alcohol concentration. You can usually detect alcohol in the urine about 1 to 2 hours longer than you can detect it in the blood -- but still, urine testing is typically only good for between two and three hours after moderate consumption.
On the plus side though, when you order from ToxTests.com, you can get test cups that test for drugs, but also come with an alcohol strip, allowing you to use the same urine specimen for both drug and alcohol testing.
Saliva Alcohol Testing
If youʼre running a zero-tolerance testing program, saliva alcohol testing is a simple, inexpensive option. Itʼs the approved choice for employees who work in safety-sensitive positions within U.S. Department of Transportation, ensuring that workers maintain the mandated level of .02% or less.
Since the tests use saliva, there are no privacy issues to contend with, and the results come back within two minutes. Theyʼre FDA-approved for Over-the-Counter use, and CLIA-waived (meaning they can be submitted for insurance reimbursement in certain settings). In terms of limitations, saliva alcohol tests only detect very recent use -- usually within two to three hours.
Breath Alcohol Testing
You may be familiar with the “breathalyzer” used in law enforcement settings, but there are actually two different breath-type alcohol tests available.
The disposable Breath Alcohol Screen is a disposable device that can test for various thresholds, including .02%, .05% and .08%. Theyʼre a CLIA-waived device and are FDA cleared for Over-the-Counter use.
Breathalyzers, meanwhile, are the electronic, non-disposable option. Theyʼre also FDA cleared for Over-the-Counter use, and are very accurate for any number of alcohol percentages, making them ideal for onsite use.