Ethyl glucuronide, ethyl sulfate, and ethanol in urine after sustained exposure to an ethanol-based hand sanitizer

Gary M. Reisfield, Bruce A. Goldberger, Bridgit O. Crews, Amadeo J. Pesce, George R. Wilson, Scott A. Teitelbaum, Roger L. Bertholf

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46 Scopus citations


To assess the degree of ethanol absorption and subsequent formation of urinary ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulfate (EtS) following sustained application of hand sanitizer, 11 volunteers cleansed their hands with Purell™ hand sanitizer (62% ethanol) every 5 min for 10 h on three consecutive days. Urine specimens were obtained at the beginning and end of each day of the study, and on the morning of the fourth day. Urinary creatinine, ethanol, EtG, and EtS concentrations were measured. EtG was undetectable in all pre-study urine specimens, but two pre-study specimens had detectable EtS (73 and 37 ng/mL). None of the pre-study specimens had detectable ethanol. The maximum EtG and EtS concentrations over the course of the study were 2001 and 84 ng/mL, respectively, and nearly all EtG- and EtS-positive urine specimens were collected at the conclusion of the individual study days. Only two specimens had detectable EtG at the beginning of any study day (96 and 139 ng/mL), and only one specimen had detectable EtS at the beginning of a study day (64 ng/mL), in addition to the two with detectable EtS prior to the study. Creatinine-adjusted maximum EtG and EtS concentrations were 1998 and 94 μg/g creatinine, respectively. In patients being monitored for ethanol use by urinary EtG concentrations, currently accepted EtG cutoffs do not distinguish between ethanol consumption and incidental exposures, particularly when urine specimens are obtained shortly after sustained use of ethanol-containing hand sanitizer. Our data suggest that EtS may be an important complementary biomarker in distinguishing ethanol consumption from dermal exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-91
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Analytical Toxicology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Chemical Health and Safety


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