Blood alcohol content, or BAC, is one of the most commonly used ways of determining not only if a person has been drinking alcohol, but also how much alcohol a person has consumed. Although a Breathalyzer test can estimate a person's BAC, to determine actual blood alcohol content, a blood sample must be used.
A blood sample for alcohol content is taken in the same way as any other blood sample, using a needle. The needle is placed into a vein and a collection tube is inserted into the back of the needle. The needle is withdrawn, and the collection tube is sent to a lab for testing. Lab tests calculate the level of ethanol in the bloodstream, giving a result back as a percentage. Any blood alcohol content over 0.08 is considered over the legal limit.
When alcohol is consumed, ethanol is released into the bloodstream. Ethanol is the substance that most blood alcohol tests search for. According to Dr. David J. Hanson, Ph.D, up to 10 percent of ethanol leaves the body through sweat, breath and urine. The rest has to be metabolized out of the body by the liver. The time that it takes for alcohol to leave the bloodstream is directly dependent on how fast the body can metabolize the alcohol.
The metabolism of alcohol occurs in the liver. Once the ethanol in an alcoholic beverage reaches the liver, special enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenase are used to break down the ethanol into acetaldehyde, which is further broken down by enzymes into acetic acid, or vinegar. This process takes about an hour to break down a one half ounce of ethanol. This means that your blood alcohol content will drop an estimated 0.015 percent ever hour. For example, a blood alcohol content of 0.05 would take approximately three hours and twenty minutes to metabolize out of your body.
- Photo Credit Magnus Manske: Wikimedia.org
About Blood Alcohol Levels
Blood alcohol levels are the most accurate way to find out how much alcohol is in the body. Its best known use...
Is Alcohol Detected in a Drug Test?
If you work for almost any employer, you may be randomly asked to submit to a drug test. This is a reasonable...
How Long Does Nicotine Stay in Your Urine?
How long nicotine stays in your system depends a variety of different factors including how much or often you smoke, how long...
Alcohol Metabolism After Death
Alcohol found in the body after death may have come from a bottle, or it may come from the body itself. Normally...
How Do You Get Alcohol Out of the Body?
Alcohol is a substance that alters the mind when consumed. There are many reasons for wanting to purge the body of alcohol,...
The Effects of Alcohol on the Bloodstream
Within 30 to 90 minutes of that first drink, alcohol can have a significant impact on your blood. Drinking too much too...
Reasons for HCG Levels to Drop
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (HCG) is a hormone produced by the body during pregnancy. Its presence in the body is detectable by blood...
- How Long Should One Leave a Detox Body Wrap On?
How Long Does It Take to Flush Nicotine From the Body?
Nicotine is one of the most addicting legal substances in the world. Millions of people struggle with smoking every day, and millions...