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Identification and Measurement of Carbon Monoxide and Inorganic Cyanide in Post Mortem Biological Material

NCJ Number
Date Published
39 pages
Two automated methods were developed and evaluated for identifying and measuring carbon monoxide and cyanide in human tissue in postmortem examinations.
Current methods are limited by their manual nature; their time-consuming liberation protocols; and, in the case of carbon monoxide, the substantial impact of the sample matrix on spectroscopic measurement. The principle of the automated method involves the liberation of the gas from the biological matrix by the addition of a displacing agent and the controlled introduction of the sample gas into a gas- phase electrochemical (GPE) detection system. The method for cyanide was sensitive to 0.5 milligrams per liter and linear up to 6 milligrams per liter. The method for carbon monoxide was sensitive over the rage of 0 to 100 percent presumptive carbon monoxide saturation. The limitations of a carbon monoxide method not based on an independent total hemoglobin measurement were considered and determined to be significant, but not to the exclusion of applying a GPE method in determining the carbon monoxide content of post mortem blood. Both methods were free from interference, and no false positive or false negative results were generated for either analyte. The rapid turnaround time for this analysis makes it ideal for the analysis of large numbers of samples in accident investigation and product tampering applications. Figures, photograph, appended case examples and discussion of policy implications, and 16 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1994