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J Anal Toxicol. 2008 Oct;32(8):594-600.

Ethyl glucuronide excretion in humans following oral administration of and dermal exposure to ethanol.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Albany Medical Center Hospital and College, Albany, New York, USA.


Ethyl glucuronide (EtG) is a direct ethanol biomarker and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has advised that specificity studies at low EtG levels are needed for distinction of ethanol consumption and incidental exposure. The authors report urinary EtG excretion with ethanol abstinence, dermal exposure and oral consumption. EtG concentration by sensitive liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry measurement in 39 urine specimens from adult alcohol abstainers (< 10-62 microg/L) and in urine from 13 children (< 10-80 microg/L) indicates either unrecognized ethanol exposure or endogenous ethanol metabolism. With repetitive daily dermal exposure to hand sanitizer (60% ethanol) by 9 adults, EtG concentration ranged from < 10 to 114 microg/L in 88 first-morning void specimens. EtG excretion following a 24 g ethanol drink by 4 adults revealed maximum urine EtG concentration (12,200-83,200 microg/L) at 3 to 8 h postdose and an EtG detection window up to 25-39 h, compared to an ethanol window of only 2 to 4 h. Oral ethanol use also showed an increase in the percent (molar equivalent) ethanol excreted as EtG with increasing oral ethanol doses. Human excretion studies show 1. EtG detectable at low concentration (< 100 microg/L) when ethanol use or exposures is not evident, 2. EtG concentration less than 120 microg/L in first morning specimens from adults with repeated dermal exposure to ethanol, 3. EtG levels maximally elevated within 3-8 h and above baseline for up to 39 h after a 24 g ethanol drink, and 4. a dose-dependent increase in the percentage of ethanol excreted as EtG with increasing oral ethanol use.

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