Hair Alcohol Testing

Hair Alcohol Testing by one of the leading specialist hair drug and alcohol testing laboratories

  • Legally defensible Analysis Results and Expert Reports accepted in all UK family courts issued in 5 working days on average
  • Analysis in accordance with the Society of Hair Testing to internationally agreed standards
  • A dedicated Client Support team to manage your case from start to finish with an unparalleled commitment to meeting your deadlines
  • LAA codified prices and competitor price matching
  • Direct contact with experts that have over 50 years combined experience in hair analysis

Hair Alcohol Testing Explained

Our hair alcohol test detects two types of alcohol biomarkers, the Fatty Acid Ethyl Ester; Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and ETG (Ethyl Glucuronide), as standard to help in the assessment of chronic excessive alcohol consumption. This ensures that there is a greater degree of certainty of the analysis results and helps in the mutual confirmation of the results.

Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG are metabolites (by-products) produced by the body after the consumption of alcohol. For this reason Ethyl Palimtate (EtPa) and EtG are suitable biomarkers for the detection of alcohol in hair when trying to asses chronic excessive alcohol use.

To avoid confusion, we analyse samples of the hair strand for the alcohol markers, not the hair follicle. The hair follicle is a small tubular cavity within the skin that contains the root of the hair.

We perform Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) & EtG analysis as standard and strongly recommend that this is used in conjunction with other forms of evidence such as blood alcohol tests (Liver Function and Carbohydrate Deficient Transferrin), clinical assessments and history of alcohol abuse to help obtain a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s alcohol use. An alcohol in hair test should not be used to monitor alcohol abstinence.

Can body hair be used for alcohol testing?

If no scalp hair is available, then chest, leg and arm hair can be used. Body hair grows at the same average rate of 1cm per month, however it has a different growth cycle to that of scalp hair, meaning that a greater proportion of the hair remains on the body in its resting (non-growing) or telogen phase. For this reason, body hair samples are analysed as a whole sample and are unable to be segmented into a month by month analysis.

For more information or advice on our hair alcohol testing services, please call us on 029 2048 4141 or email experts@lextox.co.uk

Society of Hair Testing Guidelines
The combination of both EtPa and EtG is in line with the guidance of the Society of Hair Testing 2019 Consensus for the Use of Alcohol Markers in Hair for Assessment of both Abstinence and Chronic Excessive Alcohol Consumption.

The Society of Hair Testing suggests that Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG analysis should be used for the hair strand alcohol test in either a 0-3 cm or a 0-6 cm section, covering approximately the past 3 or 6 months respectively. Upon special instruction we can analyse smaller sections (i.e. less than 3 cm or 6 cm) for the presence of Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG, however the results should be interpreted with caution. This is only available after consultation with our experts.
What are the differences between Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG? Why should both be used together?
Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) is produced in the blood and EtG is produced via the liver. Both are by-products of alcohol use during the metabolism of alcohol. EtG is soluble in water and as such is susceptible to be leached out of the hair through normal hygiene practices or through the use of cosmetic treatments (hair dyes). Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) is not soluble in water, however are still sensitive to hair treatments.

Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG are different biomarkers that when used together can provide a greater degree of confidence when assessing an individual’s chronic excessive alcohol consumption. Either test may be used in isolation, however this rules out the mutual confirmation of results.

Lextox has taken guidance from the Society of Hair Testing 2016 Consensus for the Use of Alcohol Markers in Hair for Assessment of Chronic Excessive Alcohol Consumption and provides Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG analysis as a combined test as standard for the mutual exclusion of false positives and false negatives.

It is also recommended that the alcohol in hair test is used in conjunction with blood alcohol tests (liver function and CDT) to help obtain a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s alcohol use.
What is classed as chronic excessive alcohol use?
The Society of Hair Testing defines chronic excessive alcohol consumption as an average consumption of 60 grams of pure ethanol per day over several months. This equates to an average consumption of approximately 7.5 units per day (52.5 units per week). One unit is equivalent to approximately half a pint of average strength lager (4.0% ABV) or one single spirit measure (25ml) A small glass of wine (125ml, 12% ABV) contains approximately one and a half units.

For information, in the UK, 1 unit of alcohol is defined as 8 grams or 10 millilitres of alcohol, so 60 grams of alcohol equates to 7.5 units. The amount of alcohol consumed depends on the strength of the drink. A single shot of spirits is 1 unit, a standard glass of wine (175ml) and a pint of lower strength lager is 2 units and a bottle of wine at 12% ABV is 9 units.
Can bleaching or dyeing the hair affect the levels of alcohol markers detected?
Both Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG are sensitive to the use of cosmetic treatments such as hair dyes and hair bleach. Our experts are on hand to provide guidance and advice on chemically treated samples.
Do the levels of Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG detected in the hair sample equate to units of alcohol consumed?
Due to the difference in people’s metabolism, hair growth rates and difference in hygiene practices, it is not possible to correlate the amount of Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) and EtG detected in the hair to specific units consumed. The alcohol in hair test identifies the biomarkers that are produced by the body when alcohol is used as opposed to identifying the alcohol itself.