Drinking drivers in Sweden who consume denatured alcohol preparations: an analytical-toxicological study

J Anal Toxicol. 1989 Jul-Aug;13(4):199-203. doi: 10.1093/jat/13.4.199.


In the course of analyzing blood samples from drunk drivers, several low molecular weight volatiles were occasionally identified in addition to ethanol on the gas chromatograms. Among 21, 153 blood specimens analyzed during 1986, 77 contained ethanol as well as other volatile agents at the following mean concentrations: ethanol 2090 mg/L (range 830-3410), methanol 49.6 mg/L (range 20-178), acetone 88.3 mg/L (range 12-307), 2-propanol 32.2 mg/L (range 4-99), 2-butanone 49.2 mg/L (range 5-144), and 2-butanol 23.2 mg/L (range 4-64). A technical alcohol widely available in Sweden, trade name T-red, contains 92% w/w ethanol, 2% w/w acetone, and 5% w/w 2-butanone. A red coloring agent and a substance to impart a bitter taste (bitrex) are added to deter consumption. The drinking drivers who consumed technical alcohol were on average older (43 years compared with 35 years) and had higher mean BAC (2090 mg/L compared with 1767 mg/L). Those who drank denatured alcohol were more often apprehended while driving small motorcycles (mopeds) than were control groups of DWI offenders. The use of technical alcohol for intoxication might reflect, at least in part, the high costs and restricted availability of conventional alcoholic beverages in Sweden.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetone / blood*
  • Acetone / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood*
  • Alcoholism / blood
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Butanones / blood*
  • Butanones / metabolism
  • Ethanol / blood*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Sweden


  • Butanones
  • Acetone
  • Ethanol