Section for Alcohol and Drugs Analysis

General information

Eleven people with backgrounds in chemistry are employed in this Section, three of whom have a Ph.D. degree. Four people are forensic experts in their respective branches of toxicology.

Head of Section

Dariusz Zuba, PhD

The Section for Alcohol and Drugs Analysis conducts examinations and gives opinions in different fields, including:

  • determination of ethyl alcohol in biological materials collected from both living persons (blood) and post-mortem (blood, urine, vitreous humour);
  • determination of carboxyhaemoglobin in blood for the diagnosis of carbon monoxide intoxications;
  • assessment of driver’s state of intoxication on the basis of case files;
  • examination of alcoholic beverages for the presence of denaturing agents and verification of the production method;
  • qualitative and quantitative analysis of narcotic and psychotropic substances (‘drugs’) and qualitative analysis of their traces, as well as evaluation of the production process on the basis of seized material;
  • analysis of pharmaceutical products for the presence of ‘foreign’ substances and analysis of ‘unknown’ substances (non-biological samples).

Scientific activity

The main focus of research conducted in the Section is drug profiling. Two research projects in this field, co-financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, have been implemented by employees in recent years:

  • the development of a profiling procedure for amphetamine-type designer drugs for operational and law enforcement purposes;
  • the development of an analytical and chemometric model of hallucinogenic amphetamines (ecstasy) profiling for the purposes of a drug database.

Research and development projects also concern other aspects of the analysis of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, in particular, new substances appearing on the illicit drug market (“smart-drugs” and “designer drugs”), as well as issues linked to alcohol determination in biological material (e.g. a comparison of the water content in blood collected from living people and post-mortem), precision and accuracy of breathalyzers, and the determination of denatonium benzoate (“Bitrex”) in alcoholic beverages.
The Section takes part in the following proficiency testing and interlaboratory studies:

  • in the field of alcohol analysis in biological material – organised by Gesellschaft für Toxikologische und Forensische Chemie (GTFCh), (4 times a year, 2 samples) and Collaborative Testing Services (CTS), (twice a year, 4 samples);
  • in the field of drug analysis – organised by the ENFSI Drugs Working Group (once a year, 3 samples); the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime International Collaborative Exercises (ICE), (once a year, 4 samples) and Collaborative Testing Services (CTS), (twice a year, 2 samples).

Employees of the Section train judges and public prosecutors from Poland and other countries. The main topic covered is interpretation of the results of toxicological analysis. In addition, courses are run for other professionals (psychologists, physicians, analysts, toxicologists and laboratory diagnosticians) under the auspices of the Educational Center for Forensic Sciences and the Medical Center for Postgraduate Education.

Research equipment:

  • 2 gas chromatographs coupled to mass spectrometers (GC-MS);
  • 5 gas chromatographs equipped with a flame-ionization detector (GC-FID);
  • 2 high-performance liquid chromatographs with a diode array detector (HPLC-DAD);
  • attenuated total reflectance Fourier transformation Mid-infrared spectrometer (ATR-FT-IR);
  • near-infrared spectrometer (NIR);
  • ultraviolet-visible spectrophotometer (UV/VIS).

Selected publications:

  1. Zuba D., Chemometria w naukach sądowych, (w:) Zuba D., Parczewski A. (red.), Chemometria w analityce. Wybrane zagadnienia, Wydawnictwo Instytutu Ekspertyz Sądowych, Kraków 2008.
  2. Byrska B., Zuba D., Profiling of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine by means of high-performance liquid chromatography, Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry 2008, 390, 715−722.
  3. Zuba D., Accuracy and reliability of breath alcohol testing by handheld electrochemical analysers, Forensic Science International 2008, 178, e29−e33.
  4. Cioroch K., Zuba D., Analytical approaches used for profiling of ecstasy tablets, Problems of Forensic Sciences 2007, 69, 71−89.
  5. Stanaszek R., Zuba D., 1-(3-chlorophenyl)piperazine (mCPP) − a new designer drug that is still a legal substance, Problems of Forensic Sciences 2006, 66, 220−228.
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