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Achieve fast, accurate, and routine determination of blood alcohol concentration

This application note describes the rapid, automated, and accurate determination of blood alcohol concentration by headspace coupled to gas chromatography and flame ionization detection.


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The aim of this work is to demonstrate the performance of the new Thermo Scientific™ TriPlus 500™ headspace autosampler coupled to a Thermo Scientific™ TRACE™ 1310 Gas Chromatograph, using the Thermo Scientific™ Chromeleon™ Chromatography Data System for fast, accurate, and routine determination of blood alcohol concentration.

Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) analysis is one of the most common tests performed in forensic science. For the purposes of law enforcement, BAC is used to define the level of intoxication and can also provide a rough measure of impairment. Many countries forbid operation of motor vehicles or heavy machinery by anyone with alcohol concentration above a legal limit, usually expressed in grams per deciliter (g/dL). BAC legal limits vary in different countries.

BAC analysis is routinely carried out using the headspace sampling technique coupled to gas chromatography (GC) with flame ionization detection (FID) or mass spectrometry (MS) detection, as this is a simple and fast analytical technique allowing for high sample throughput. The main challenges related to BAC determination that can lead to inaccurate results are carryover from previous injections, resulting in elevated and in some cases false positive results and non-linear ethanol calibration, due to poor instrument performance or inadequate method optimization.

Full experimental conditions can be obtained by downloading the application note.

Results and discussion
BAC analysis requires analytical methods that are fast, reliable, and cost effective. Analytical performance
was tested for the detailed HS-GC-FID configuration, including chromatographic separation of target analytes, compound linearity, peak area repeatability, recovery, carryover, and quantitation of BAC in blood samples.

The data demonstrated that the TriPlus 500 HS autosampler can provide high level performance for
reliable quantitation of blood alcohol content and fulfills the needs of forensics laboratories for fast, accurate, and high-throughput routine analysis.
Furthermore, it revealed how Chromeleon CDS software offers an ideal solution for the targeted analysis of BAC with user-friendly data processing for high-throughput analysis, with easy data reviewing and flexible data reporting.

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