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June 28, 1985

SI Units

Author Affiliations

State Laboratory of Hygiene Madison, Wis

JAMA. 1985;253(24):3547. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350480055006

To the Editor.—  You are to be commended for the Oct 12, 1984, JAMA theme issue on alcohol and other drugs, and for the ten recommendations in your editorial.1However, my pleasure in reading the issue was jarred by confusion about the reporting units for ethanol concentrations. Page 1886, column 1, paragraph 1, indicates that the "mean blood alcohol concentration . . . was 0.20 ± 0.08 mg/dL, or twice the level of legal intoxication (0.10 mg/dL) in Wisconsin." In fact, the ethanol level, which is illegal per se for Wisconsin drivers, is 0.10% wt, or 100 mg/dL. No doubt the mean blood alcohol concentration in the study was 0.20% wt, or 200 mg/dL.On page 1837, 0.04 mg/dL is referred to as a level that " 'has been shown to bring about measureable diminution of attention and skills,' " a statement that would be more accurate for 40 mg/dL, or 0.04% wt.