A very small percentage of absorbed ethanol is excreted unchanged in the breath, urine, sweat and faeces, the remaining 90-95% is metabolised via liver enzymes to acetaldehyde and acetate (Hills and Venable, 1982; Baselt, 2000).

Nomiyama and Nomiyama (1974) studied the elimination of seven organic solvents via the respiratory tract. Ethanol was found to have a large rate constant as compared to other organic solvents in the study. This large rate constant was thought to reflect the rapid decrease in ethanol blood concentrations. The authors also calculated that the ratio of retained versus eliminated solvent was 20% for ethanol, which implies that the lungs are not a main route of elimination.

Blood ethanol concentrations fall at a rate of 120-250 mg/l/h. This rate is largely independent of the absolute blood ethanol concentration (Gibson et al., 1985; Baselt, 2000).

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