Volume 39, Issue 1 (January 1994)
An Acetonitrile-Related Death
A 39-year-old female who lived alone was discovered dead in her home. An autopsy produced no cause of death. The blood sedative screen was negative and only diphenhydramine was found by the urine organic base analysis. Examination of the blood and urine for volatiles produced an unexpected peak by GC analysis, which was then identified as acetonitrile by GC/MS. Acetonitrile concentrations were 31 and 56 mg/dL in two separate blood samples and 44 mg/dL in the urine. The blood cyanide concentration was 4.4 µg/mL. The cause of death was determined to be acetonitrile poisoning although the source of the acetonirile was not discovered.