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April 27, 1940


JAMA. 1940;114(17):1687. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810170083018

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To the Editor:—  The criticism of certain chemical tests for intoxication made in The Journal, March 23, page 1098, by Dr. Chauncey D. Leake and his associates is somewhat vague as to just how their experiments were conducted.The sample of necropsy blood may have been contaminated with embalming fluid, although a test for formaldehyde would have settled this point. I have found that even the cap of an embalming fluid bottle can contaminate a small sample of blood stored in such a bottle.That a trace of endogenous "alcohol" is present in the blood and tissues of a nondrinking person has been repeatedly demonstrated during the past eighty years. In 1935 (Am. J. Physiol.112:374 [June] 1935) Dr. Anna L. Goss and I published experiments indicating that even this trace of volatile reducing substance—usually less than 1 mg. per hundred cubic centimeters —is mostly not preformed alcohol. This

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