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Minerva Medicolegale 2009 September;129(3):147-53

Copyright © 2009 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: Italian

Alcohol use and abuse: application of biomarker in the traffic safety contest

Bianchi V. 1, Raspagni A. 1, Arfini C. 2

1 Laboratorio di Tossicologia, Alessandria, Italia; 2 Dipartimento di Patologia Clinica, Azienda Ospedaliera SS Antonio e Biagio e C Arrigo, Alessandria, Italia


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Measuring alcohol in breath or body fluids is the evidence to check if people have exceeded limits fixed by law for the driving suitability. Finding a punishable blood alcohol limit has the aim to prevent accidents and to conform all behaviors; however, this limit is neither an effective indication of driver alcohol intake, nor the presence of serious alcohol-related problems. These limits originated from several epidemiologic studies evaluating the general relationship between alcohol concentration and driving behavior. The treatment for dependence on alcohol might be a good strategy instead of punishment; moreover, monitoring drunk drivers has proven effective to reduce recidivism rates after relicensing. For this purpose sensitive and specific biochemical markers are needed to assess whether a person has recently consumed alcohol and to provide a rough estimate of the amounts consumed and the duration of ingestion. Several biomarkers have been found and studied in whole blood, serum and urine. They must have sensibility and sensitivity in order to provide for a correct evaluation of recent alcohol intake, even if the ethanol concentration is low. The aim of this work is to give a survey of biochemical markers of alcohol use and abuse and highlight some applications in safety traffic context and in traffic medicine.

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