U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Methyl tert-Butyl Ether MTBE Detected in Abnormally High Concentrations in Postmortem Blood and Urine From Two Persons Found Dead Inside a Car Containing a Gasoline Spill

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 58 Issue: 5 Dated: September 2013 Pages: 1393-1396
Ritva Karinen; Vigdis Vindenes Ph.D.; Inge Morild M.D.; Lene Johnsen B.A.; Ilah Le Nygaard M.D.; Asbjørg S. Christophersen Ph.D.
Date Published
September 2013
4 pages
Two deep frozen persons, a female and a male, were found dead in a car.
Two deep frozen persons, a female and a male, were found dead in a car. There had been an explosive fire inside the car which had extinguished itself. On the floor inside the car were large pools of liquid which smelled of gasoline. The autopsy findings and routine toxicological analyses could not explain the cause of death. Carboxyhemoglobin levels in the blood samples were <10%. Analysis with a headspace gas chromatography revealed methyl tert-butyl ether MTBE concentrations of 185 mg/L female victim and 115 mg/L male victim in peripheral blood. The urine MTBE concentrations were 150 mg/L and 256 mg/L, respectively. MTBE is a synthetic chemical which is added to gasoline as a fuel oxygenate. Gasoline poisoning is likely to be the cause of the death in these two cases, and MTBE can be a suitable marker of gasoline exposure, when other volatile components have vaporized. Abstract published by arrangement with Wiley.