Methods for Determining Blood Alcohol Concentration: Current and Retrospective

Kate B. Carey, John T.P. Hustad

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


This chapter provides an overview of the methods of determining Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) that are useful in alcohol research. BAC refers to the amount of alcohol circulating in the bloodstream, and is the best estimate of the effects of alcohol on the brain. BAC varies as a function of dose of alcohol, time, gender, body weight, age, beverage type, and individual differences in absorption and metabolism of alcohol. BAC measurement allows for a direct comparison of intoxication levels across persons. Although direct blood alcohol measurement via gas chromatographic methods remains the standard, BAC can be estimated from other bodily fluids, including saliva, urine, and sweat, and from the breath samples. In addition, predictions can be made using mathematical models of BAC that take into account major factors affecting the absorption and metabolism of alcohol. Both advantages and disadvantages of each method of BAC determination are reviewed. Limitations relate both to the biological correspondence of the sample tested to the actual BAC and to the current instrumentation available for analysis. When choosing among BAC measurement options, the resources available, the level of accuracy required, and the nature of the inferences to be made, must be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationComprehensive Handbook of Alcohol Related Pathology
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780080502311
ISBN (Print)9780125643702
StatePublished - Jan 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'Methods for Determining Blood Alcohol Concentration: Current and Retrospective'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this