Selection of an Internal Standard for Postmortem Ethanol Analysis
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROMEDICAL INST
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One mission of the Civil Aeromedical Institute is to determine the concentrations of alcohol in postmortem specimens related to aviation accidents. This requires the ability to identify and quantitate a wide range of alcohols that are produced in postmortem specimens. A headspace gas chromatographic procedure utilizing n-propanol as an internal standard had been used in the past. However, n-propanol has been found in postmortem specimens, making n-propanol an unsuitable specimen for an internal standard in the analysis of postmortem specimens. This study evaluated 3 potential replacement internal standards for postmortem ethanol analysis. Method A mixture of alcohols commonly found in postmortem specimens was prepared and tested using headspace gas chromatography. Solutions were prepared using the test mix and the new internal standards. Data were collected on the resolution and reproducibility of the proposed new internal standards with the test mix. Postmortem cases collected over the past 8 years were reviewed for the presence of specific volatile compounds. Results Baseline resolution from the test mix was not obtained with propionaldehyde, while propionic acid methyl ester exhibited degradation over time. T-butanol was found to give baseline resolution from all volatile compounds commonly found in antimortem and postmortem specimens. No t-butanol was found in 2880 fatal pilots analyzed over the past 8 years for the presence of volatiles. Conclusion t-butanol is a better internal standard for the analysis of alcohols in postmortem specimens than propionaldehyde, n-propanol, and propionic acid methyl ester, and is not produced in postmortem specimens.
- Medicine and Medical Research
- Organic Chemistry