Abstract

Ethanol is the most frequently identified compound in forensic toxicology. Although confirmation involving mass spectrometry is desirable, relatively few methods have been published to date. A novel technique utilizing a Dean's Switch to simultaneously quantitate and confirm ethyl alcohol by flame-ionization (FID) and mass spectrometric (MS) detection after headspace sampling and gas chromatographic separation is presented. Using 100 µL of sample, the limits of detection and quantitation were 0.005 and 0.010 g/dL, respectively. The zero-order linear range (r2 > 0.990) was determined to span the concentrations of 0.010 to 1.000 g/dL. The coefficient of variation of replicate analyses was less than 3.1%. Quantitative accuracy was within ±8%, ±6%, ±3%, and ±1.5% at concentrations of 0.010, 0.025, 0.080, and 0.300 g/dL, respectively. In addition, 1,1-difluoroethane was validated for qualitative identification by this method. The validated FID-MS method provides a procedure for the quantitation of ethyl alcohol in blood by FID with simultaneous confirmation by MS and can also be utilized as an identification method for inhalants such as 1,1-difluoroethane.