Do variable rates of alcohol drinking alter the ability to use transdermal alcohol monitors to estimate peak breath alcohol and total number of drinks?

Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2014 Oct;38(10):2517-22. doi: 10.1111/acer.12528. Epub 2014 Oct 21.


Background: Transdermal alcohol monitoring is a noninvasive method that continuously gathers transdermal alcohol concentrations (TAC) in real time; thus, its use is becoming increasingly more common in alcohol research. In previous studies, we developed models that use TAC data to estimate peak breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) and standard units consumed when the rate of consumption was tightly controlled.

Methods: Twenty-two healthy participants aged 21 to 52 who reported consuming alcohol on 1 to 4 days per week were recruited from the community. The final study sample included 11 men and 8 women. Both TAC and BrAC were monitored while each participant drank 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 beers in the laboratory on 5 separate days. In contrast to previous studies, a self-paced alcohol administration procedure was used.

Results: While there was considerable variation in the times it took to consume each beer, key TAC parameters were not affected by pace of drinking. TAC data were then used in combination with the previously derived equations and estimated peak BrAC and standard units of alcohol consumed.

Conclusions: Transdermal alcohol monitoring can be used to reliably estimate peak BrAC and standard number of units consumed regardless of the rate of consumption, further demonstrating its usefulness in clinical research.

Keywords: Alcohol Abuse; Binge Drinking; Breath and Blood Alcohol Concentration; Transdermal Alcohol Monitoring.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Beer
  • Breath Tests / instrumentation*
  • Breath Tests / methods*
  • Drinking Behavior / physiology*
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / methods*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Skin / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Ethanol