Experimental study of the temporal profile of breath alcohol concentration in a Chinese population after a light meal

Y. C. Li, N. N. Sze, Sze Chun Wong, K. L. Tsui, F. L. So

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


In forensic science, the Widmark equation is widely used to deduce the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at different time points. But the linear model specified by Widmark might be deficient in predicting the breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) at different time points, and extrapolating the peak and the corresponding time. In order to establish the temporal profile of alcohol concentration which captures the effects of non-linear nature of alcohol absorption, elimination, and peak, in particular of Chinese population after a light meal, a drinking experiment was conducted in this study. To achieve this, a double-blind drinking experiment was conducted to measure the BrAC of 52 Chinese participants after a light meal in this study. Prior to the experiment, all participants were required to abstain from food for 4 hours, more importantly, from alcohol and sedatives for 24 hours. A standard light meal was provided about 30 minutes prior to the alcohol intake in the experiment. The BrAC was measured at a 10-minute interval during the absorption phase and 30-minute interval during the elimination phase respectively. The measurements were stopped when the BrAC fell to 0.010 mg/100 ml or below, or more than 8 hours after the alcohol intake. Then, the temporal profiles of BrAC, assuming linear and non-linear relationships, were established using Full Bayesian approach. The linear component indicated the alcohol impairment in normal social function, with which a light meal is usually accompanied with drinking. On the other hand, the non-linear (gamma distribution) part replicated the absorption phase, elimination phase, and the peak of alcohol concentration. The proposed model well performed than the conventional regression model. Additionally, the confounding factors including gender, body weight, and dosage were controlled for. Results should be useful for the development of cost-effective enforcement measures that could deter against drink driving.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0221237
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

Cite this