Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry

The Department of Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry is divided into two areas. Forensic Toxicology is concerned with determining the presence/level of alcohol, drugs and active drug ingredients – as well as poisons (xenobiotics) and alcohol consumption markers – in bodily fluids, organs and hair from living and dead persons. By contrast, Forensic Chemistry is concerned with investigating seizures of drugs and other chemicals, in order to identify narcotics or synthetic source materials, and examining residues of fire accelerants in cases of suspected arson. In addition to the laboratory service and the assessment-related activities in these areas, the other main focuses of the department are the development of new methods – particularly LC-MS/MS-based – and applied research. We are involved in clinical studies where alcohol consumption markers are used for diagnostic purposes and also other clinical studies requiring highly sensitive detection of xenobiotics in an organism. The emphasis here is on the analysis of bodily fluids and "alternative matrices" (oral fluid, hair, capillary blood, dried blood spots).

The services of the Department of Forensic Toxicology and Chemistry are used by clients at a regional, national and international level. Clients include judicial, police and customs authorities, as well as physicians in private practice, clinics, university institutions and insurance companies. Companies who have concluded an agreement with their employees in this respect can have us analyze samples as part of a workplace drug testing or working monitoring program. Orders from private individuals are not generally accepted.

  • Determining the blood alcohol level for suspected drunk driving and other offenses, as well as for clinical cases
  • Determining the presence/level of drugs, active drug ingredients and organic compounds in blood and urine where driving under the influence of drugs and/or medication is suspected, as well as detecting these substances on suspects and victims of crimes and in clinical cases. Screening processes and quantitative confirmatory analyses
  • Detection of K.O.-drugs (GHB, narcotics, other psychotropic drugs) in blood, urine, hair
  • Hair analyses for drugs, medication and ethyl glucuronide (suitability to drive, abstinence monitoring, clarification of consumption habits)
  • Abstinence monitoring for alcohol withdrawal and maintenance therapy (EtG/EtS in blood and urine and phosphatidylethanol in blood)
  • Detection of designer drugs and synthetic cannabinoids (blood, urine, hair)
  • Detection of volatile substances using headspace GC-MS and HS-GC-FID
  • Specific chemico-toxicological analyses in relation to clinical and insurance issues

Similar analytical methods as those involving living persons, albeit with a view to answering different questions and with additional investigative materials (postmortem):

  • Influence of drugs, medication and alcohol
  • Detection of alcohol, drugs, active drug ingredients, organic substances and metabolites in blood, urine, tissue, organs, hair in connection with (unnatural) deaths
  • Alcohol consumption markers (ethyl glucuronide, ethyl sulfate)
  • Detection of cyanide and carbon monoxide
  • Specific analysis in poisoning cases of a suspicious nature
  • Analysis of narcotics (cannabis, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, designer drugs, etc.)
  • Substance comparison (based on content analyses)
  • Heroin profiling based on a substance comparison for heroin
  • Trace analyses with an ion mobility spectrometer
  • Organization of round robin tests
  • Analysis of doping agents
  • Analysis of "research chemicals" (new psychoactive substances, designer drugs, "recreational drugs", "food supplements")

Forensic chemical analysis of fire debris samples and other exhibits with a view to identifying fire accelerants

  • Assessments involving ASTRA-certified experts regarding fitness to drive (drunk driving, driving under the influence of drugs, driving under the influence of medication)
  • Calculation/back calculation of blood alcohol levels at the time of an incident
  • Calculation and assessment of alcohol claimed to have been drunk after an incident
  • Assessment of claims regarding alcohol drunk after an incident following analysis of alcohol congeners
  • Assessments based on records (Forensic Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry)