Blood Alcohol and Forensic Arson Investigation

Blood Alcohol Expert Laboratory

In most police or court procedures it is vital to know, if the suspect or the victim was under the influence of alcohol. The personnel of the central laboratory is capable of examine the alcohol content of over 20.000 blood and urine samples yearly, thanks to the modernisation in 2012.

The clues are admitted by the laboratory in standardized bloodcupping units. The samples in the units are marked by unique barcodes to ensure the anonymity in the process of the measuring and the administration. The samples are prepared by two separate technicians, with the help of semi-automatic sample-dispenser.

The etil-alcohol concentration of the prepared samples are measured by two HS-GC device (head space gas chromatograph). The final result is generated as the average of 4 measurments (two measurments on 2-2 colonnas of the devices).

According to the analytical measurments, the etil-alcohol concentration of the blood- or urine sample is determined by a forensic chemist in the expert report. The affected persons blood alcohol concentration in the time of the act in question (f.e. felony or offence) is determined by one of the HIFS’s forensic medical expert in an independant - or in some cases, in a joint - expert report.

Since November 2014 it is possible to examine the samples drug- or new psychoactive substance contents with the HPLC-MS/MS device. The appointing official is informed immediately in the case of drug or NPS influence, but the laboratory is not authorised to make an expert report on this information: it belongs in the jurisdiction and competency of the HIFS’s Department of Forensic Toxicology, and a few university’s toxicology institutes.

The laboratory’s experts take part in international proficiency tests with significant success since 1991. The renewal procedure of the laboratory’s accreditation is currently in progress.


Arson Investigation Laboratory

The main task of the laboratory is to examine residues of flammable liquids and other distillates in fire debris and in other trace evidences. In addition, the experts analyzes unknown substances (f.e. organic or inorganic liquid residues) for identification and comparison.

The goal of the examinations is to verify, if the fire debris contains any residues of accelerants. The examinations require special sample preparation methods; for identification procedures the staff of the laboratory uses 4 gas chromatographs (GC) coupled with flame-ionisation detectors and 2 gas chromatograph/mass spectrometers (GC/MS), one of them coupled with automated thermal desorbtion equipment.

In the suspicion of arson it is possible, to examine the suspect’s clothing for the traces of accelerants.

The experts can answer the questions regarding the cause of fire, cause of an accident and to determine, if the examined fuels have common origin or not.

With the help of the available equipment it is also possible to analyze unknown organic or inorganic liquids, like active substances of different gas sprays and paint dissolvents (f.e. chromofag).

The laboratory’s experts are active members of the ENFSI Fire and Explosion Investigation Working Group and they take part in international proficiency tests since 2009. The renewal procedure of the laboratory’s accreditation is currently in progress.

Head of the Department of Blood Alcohol and Forensic Arson Investigation:

Edina Kovács
Department of Blood Alcohol and Forensic Arson Investigation
head of department, forensic chemist