Volume 32, Issue 2 (March 1987)
Effect of Hypothermia on Breath-Alcohol Analysis
Mild hypothermia, induced by experimental immersion of ten subjects in cold water, distorted the decay curve of breath ethanol of intoxicated subjects by as much as 22% while not altering overall ethanol clearance rate. The results provide in vivo verification of the in vitro temperature correction factor of 6.8% · °C−1, and support previous recommendations that temperature monitoring be included in procedures for breath-ethanol testing. We recommend that mouth temperature be obtained before breath sampling to screen for abnormal body temperature and to allow for potential use of a temperature correction factor. This modification to existing analytical procedures would help to optimize the reliability of breath-ethanol analysis in predicting blood-ethanol concentration.