Postmortem Alcohol Production in Fatal Aircraft Accidents
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INST
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During 1989 and 1990, the Civil Aeromedical Institute CAMI received specimens from 975 victims of fatal aircraft accidents. The maximum concentration of ethanol allowed Linder FAA regulations 0.04, 40mgdL was exceeded in 79 of these cases 8. It was determined based on the distribution of ethanol in urine, vitreous, blood, and tissue that 21 of the positive cases 27 were from postmortem alcohol production. Twenty-two of the positive cases 28 were found to be from the ingestion of ethanol. In 36 cases 45 no determination could be made in regards to the origin of the ethanol. In two cases, postmortem alcohol production exceeded 0. 15 percent 150mgdL. The opinion held by some toxicologists that postmortem alcohol production can be inferred from the presence of acetaldehyde, acetone, butanol, and other volatiles was found to be incorrect. Several cases with postmortem ethanol had no other volatiles. Volatile compounds were found in several cases where no ethanol was present. In addition, a case was found where the relative ethanol concentrations in blood, bile, and vitreous humor were solely consistent with the ingestion of ethanol, but acetaldehyde, acetone, and 2-butanol were also found in blood. This clearly indicates that the presence or absence of other volatiles does not establish postmortem ethanol production.
- Commercial and General Aviation
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Organic Chemistry