Why choose finger prick PEth alcohol testing?

  • The gold standard of blood alcohol tests
  • Rapid results
  • Up to 4-week overview of historic alcohol consumption
  • Quick, virtually pain-free method of blood sample collection (finger prick)
  • Detect chronic and single-drinking episodes
  • Monitor abstinence, drinking behaviour, relapse, and verify changed patterns of alcohol consumption
  • UKAS 17025-accredited testing laboratory (No. 2773)
  • Legally defensible Expert Reports accepted in every UK family court
  • Suitable for the legal profession, social workers and members of the public
  • Nationwide network of sample collectors
  • FREE legally-instructed sample collection at our nationwide Walk-in Centres
  • The only form of blood alcohol testing that is recommended to be performed during pregnancy or within two months of birth
  • One of the few UK laboratories to offer PEth testing in-house – meaning samples are never sent abroad
 

PEth blood alcohol testing explained

  • Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) is a direct biomarker of alcohol, meaning it can only be made in the body when alcohol has been consumed – making PEth the gold standard of blood alcohol tests.
  • PEth can be detected in the blood after 1-2 hours and for up to 12 days after a single drinking episode.
  • Daily consumption of more than 60g of ethanol can clearly be distinguished from lower alcohol consumption.
  • Unlike other laboratories, our fast and effective finger prick PEth test simply requires a few blood drops, collected using a finger prick device. Ideal for Sample Donors who are needle phobic or have poor vein access.
  • No specialist phlebotomy or venepuncture skills are required to perform the collection, making the process much simpler, and more cost-efficient for customers.
  • Dry blood spots remain stable for months at ambient temperature, reducing the risk of sample degradation.

Enquire about our Comprehensive Alcohol Analysis Package

Our Comprehensive Alcohol Analysis combines head hair alcohol testing with our blood alcohol tests (PEth, CDT, LFT, MCV), for the fullest picture of alcohol use, and includes an Expert Report and sample collection – a popular package with family law courts.

Call 0333 600 1300, email testing@alphabiolabs.com or complete our online form to request a quote now.

How can I get a quote for finger prick PEth alcohol testing?

Legal professional or social worker

Complete our online legal quote form and a member of our team will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

Alternatively, call us on 0333 600 1300 or email testing@alphabiolabs.com.

Member of the public

Call our friendly and discreet Customer Services team on 0333 600 1300 or email info@alphabiolabs.com to request a quote.

 

Learn more about our other Legal Alcohol Testing services

More questions?

Visit our Learning Centre for more information on PEth alcohol testing >

Frequently Asked Questions

Drinking experiments show that Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) can be detected in blood after 1-2 hours and for up to 12 days after a single drinking episode.

Additionally, daily alcohol consumption of more than 60g of ethanol can be clearly distinguished from lower alcohol consumption.

This means that PEth testing can detect chronic and single-drinking episodes. It can also be used to monitor abstinence, drinking behaviour, identify relapse, and verify whether an individual has changed their pattern of alcohol consumption.

The table below shows the range of PEth levels that can be measured using an AlphaBiolabs’ blood alcohol PEth test.

PEth level (ng/ml)  
< 20 Abstinence or low alcohol consumption in the approximate month prior to sample collection
20-210 Social/moderate alcohol consumption in the approximate month prior to sample collection
> 210 Excessive alcohol consumption in the approximate month prior to sample collection

There are four main types of blood alcohol testing that legal professionals can call upon for supporting evidence in a case – all of which can provide a four-week historic overview of alcohol use:

Unlike CDT, LFT and MCV – all of which are indirect biomarkers of alcohol, whose presence can be affected by pre-existing medical conditions and medications, among other factors – PEth is a direct biomarker of alcohol.

As an abnormal phospholipid, it requires ethanol for its production, meaning that it is only present in the body when alcohol has been consumed.

PEth production begins as soon as ethanol is consumed and accumulates in the blood with frequent alcohol consumption, giving it a high specificity and sensitivity.

Drinking experiments show that PEth can be detected in blood after one to two hours, and for up to 12 days after a single drinking episode.

In addition, daily alcohol consumption of more than 60g of ethanol (7.5 units) can clearly be distinguished from lower alcohol consumption, meaning that PEth testing can be used to detect chronic and single-drinking episodes.

The wealth of information provided by a PEth test, alongside its conclusiveness, is what makes it the most essential of all blood alcohol tests, enabling us to monitor abstinence, drinking behaviour, or identify relapse.

PEth analysis is also the only blood alcohol test that is recommended to be undertaken during pregnancy or within two months of the birth.

The PEth result provides a detection period of up to 4 weeks (an approximate month) prior to collection. However, the greater the exposure and/or larger the binge session(s), the longer the period of detection.

PEth is second only to the detection of ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl palmitate (EtPa), a fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE), in the hair.

Both EtG and EtPa are biomarkers of alcohol and give us a highly accurate insight into patterns of drinking, with a three- or six-month overview of usage. The PEth result provides a detection period of up to 4 weeks (an approximate month) prior to collection.

Each is absorbed into the hair via different routes, and their levels can assist in assessing excessive alcohol consumption.

EtG is water soluble, produced in the liver and can be impacted by various hair treatments including excessive washing.

EtPa is formed in the sebaceous glands from ethanol diffusing from the blood circulation and then deposited into hair primarily from sebum (from the oil glands on the scalp). EtPa (FAEE) is lipophilic so while not water soluble, its presence can be affected using alcohol-containing hair products such as sprays, gels, and wax.

Because of their respective strengths and weaknesses, both EtG and EtPa tests should be performed together, and their findings used to support each other, as shown in LB Richmond v B & W & B & CB [2010] EWHC (2903) Fam, where Mr Justice Moylan gave guidance on the evidential worth of hair strand testing.

Within this guidance, it was also stressed that hair strand tests/hair alcohol tests should not be used in isolation to reach evidential conclusions.

By performing these tests in conjunction with PEth and other blood tests, a more holistic conclusion can be drawn as to a person’s alcohol use.