Drinking alcohol has been part of our culture for as long as we may care to remember. Whilst it is socially acceptable in many parts of the world, alcohol is also a factor in many criminal and civil disputes. To test whether someone is currently under the influence of alcohol we can use a breathalyzer device, or test their blood. However, it can often be useful to try and establish a persons long term drinking pattern and habits.
Testing for specific alcohol biomarkers in our head hair can help to demonstrate whether you are teetotal, drink moderately, or drink to chronic, excessive levels. We can profile your drinking behaviour over the past several months. Whilst these alcohol hair tests can be very useful in a court case, the interpretation of the results is often challenging. My research is aimed at improving our understanding of the many factors which can influence the results of alcohol hair tests, to ensure the safe use of such tests in important legal matters.
In this 'Pint of Science' session we will discuss:
How does alcohol get in to your hair in the first place?
How does the testing process work?
What does it prove?
Do cosmetic hair treatments affect the results?
Does my body shape and size influence the test?
Dr Richard Paul is an analytical toxicologist with a particular interest in the measurement of drugs and alcohol in hair. His current research focuses on data interpretation issues related to alcohol and cannabis quantification in hair samples.