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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Workplace Alcohol Testing Program by Combined Use of Ethyl Glucuronide and Fatty Acid Ethyl Esters in Hair

The applicability of fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) and ethyl glucuronide (EtG) in hair in a workplace alcohol testing program was investigated.

A total of 78 hair samples from employees in jobs with a high endangering potential were tested for EtG and FAEEs. In most cases excessive drinking was suspected. For 59 of these cases additional data of the traditional alcohol markers aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyltransferase and of the mean corpuscular volume of the erythrocytes (58 cases) were available.

By application of the cut-offs of the Consensus of the Society of Hair Testing and of a gradual system for combined interpretation of FAEEs and EtG in hair no indications of alcohol abuse were obtained in 50 cases (64%), slight indications were seen in 13 cases (17%) and clear indications in 11 cases (14%). In four cases, the results were inconclusive with strongly conflicting results of both markers, the reason for which could not be cleared. The traditional markers confirmed the hair results only partly and displayed altogether a lower portion of positive results.

EtG and FAEEs in hair, especially when interpreted in combination, are suitable for application in workplace alcohol testing programs. Nevertheless, the results obtained by hair analysis for alcohol markers can only be one part of a proper assessment aiming at the question whether an employee is addicted to alcohol or not.

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