Blood Alcohol

AuthorJames G. Wigmore
blood Alcohol
This chapter is organ ized into f‌ive sections: the methods of blood alcohol
concentration (BAC) analysis, the distribution of alcohol into the various
components of blood (serum, plasma, and red blood cells [RBCs]), the
ef‌fect of storage conditions (e.g., temperature) on BAC, the ef‌fects of the
use of alcohol swabs, and endogenous BACs. The average adult human
has approximately L of whole blood, compared with approximately L
of total body water. The major components of whole blood and their ap-
proximate pe rcentages are as follows:
• Plasma—.%
• RBCs (erythrocy tes)—.%
• White blood cells (leukocytes)—.%
Currently, the most common method of forensic analysis of alcohol is
by headspace gas chromatography (GC) (–). Various enzymatic
methods of alcohol analysis are also employed, usually in a hospital set-
ting using antemortem blood (–). The alcohol concentration of
clotted blood for alcohol analysis tends to be lower as there is a loss of
alcohol during the homogenization of the blood (). Other methods
of alcohol analysis include direct injection GC (, ) and high-
pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) ().
Wigmore on Alcohol
Reference Number: 
Reference Number: 
, .., . ,  .. . “Improved Recovery and
Stability of Ethanol in Automated Headspace Analysis.Journal of For-
ensic Sciences, : –,  ( tables,  f‌igures,  references)
Abstract: A study was conducted of the analysis of spiked aqueous, ur ine,
serum, and whole blood samples using a PerkinElmer F- automated
headspace analyzer. The column used wa s a . m stainless steel column
( mm internal diameter [ID]) packed with % Carbowax M on Car-
bopak B. The operating temperatures were heating block ºC, injector
ºC, oven ºC, and detector ºC. n-Propanol was used as an inter-
nal standa rd. The additions of sodium dithionite to prevent acetaldehyde
formation and ammonium sulphate to prevent salting-out ef‌fects were
found to improve recovery and the precision of the ethanol analysis.
In conclusion, we have developed a headspace GC method for deter-
mination of alcohol in blood in which the analyte is st able under ana-
lytical conditions for at least h; the method is accurate, line ar and
extremely precise and sensitive.
Reference Number: 
, ..,  . . “Computer-Aided Headspace Gas Chro-
matography Applied to Blood-Alcohol Analysis: Importance of On-
line Process Control.” Journal of Forensic Sciences, : –,  (
tables,  f‌igures,  references)
Abstract: A headspace GC method used to determine the BAC of arrested
drinki ng drivers in Sweden is described. A volume of . mL of blood was
pipetted and diluted -fold with a solution of n-propanol, as the internal
standard, and sea led into a glass vial. The vial wa s heated to ºC for 
minutes, and the headspace was injected onto three separate columns
(Carbopak C /, Carbopak B /, and % Carbowax M).
HS [headspace]-GC has emerged as the met hod of choice for analy-
sis of ethanol as well as other low molecular weight volatiles in body
f‌luids for research and medicolegal purposes. Th e present method is
similar to many well-established HS- GC techniques described in the
literature. Special precautions must be taken to eliminate th e risk of
mix-up of specimens and to ensure a high degree of quality control of
the day-to-day analytical results . To this end, aliquots of blood are re-

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