Take a breath before you buy a breathalyser

A quality personal breathalyser that accurately measures your blood alcohol level is a lifesaver and won’t cost the earth.

We know that alcohol is a leading cause of death on the roads. We also know that it’s a significant contributor to workplace injuries. So, why not get online or head to your nearest stockist to buy a breathalyser today?

It seems like a good idea. After all, a breathalyser can give you an indication of how much you’ve had to drink and whether you are safe to drive and work. However, before you do buy one, take a breath because not all personal alcohol testing devices or breathalysers are the same. Some can be misleading at best!

Alcohol’s impact on road and workplace safety

What exactly is the impact of alcohol on road and workplace safety? Here are just a few stats to highlight the issues:

  • According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), alcohol is a factor in approximately 30% of all road fatalities in Australia.
  • The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics states that alcohol-related crashes account for 19% of all serious injuries on Australian roads.
  • The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) reports that drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05% are twice as likely to have a crash as those with a BAC of 0.00%. This risk increases to five times with a BAC of 0.08%, and up to ten times with a BAC of 0.10%.
  • According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF), alcohol is a factor in approximately 11% of workplace accidents in Australia.
  • Safe Work Australia reports that up to 15% of workplace fatalities may involve alcohol.

A little education about alcohol testing and breathalysers

Before these worrying facts have you running out to purchase a personal breathalyser, or to purchase several for your business, it’s worth highlighting that there are two main types of breathalysers you can buy. They are the semiconductor breathalyser and the fuel cell breathalyser.

Before we look at the two main types of breathalysers further, however, here’s a bit of science.

Alcohol breathalysers work by testing the BrAC (Breath Alcohol Content) of a sample of a person’s breath. It measures how many grams of alcohol there are in your bloodstream.

Alcohol is not digested when you consume it. It’s absorbed into your blood stream. As the blood travels through the lungs some of the alcohol moves across the membrane of the lung’s air sacks. When the alcohol is exposed to the air in your lungs, it evaporates and mixes with the air in your lungs and is expelled when you exhale.

Through exhaustive experimentation, there has been a correlation found between the ratio of vaporised alcohol found in your lungs and the alcohol content in the bloodstream. It has been accepted that there is a ratio of 2,100:1 (air volume to blood volume). Using this ratio, a properly calibrated alcohol breathalyser can accurately determine a person BrAC.

Fuel cell breathalysers v semiconductor

The difference between fuel cell and semiconductor technology is simply the way that the alcohol that is found in the breath sample is tested.

Fuel cell technology works by creating a chemical reaction that oxidises the alcohol in the breath sample. This oxidisation produces an electrical current and the device measures this electrical current to determine the breath alcohol content (BrAC) of the sample.

Semiconductor technology uses an oxide sensor to measure the reactivity between the tin dioxide (SnO2) in the sensor and the ethanol molecules in the breath sample. When the ethanol molecules come in contact with the tin dioxide the reaction changes the electrical resistance of the sensor. The semiconductor measures this difference and calculates an estimate of the BrAC of the sample.

What does this all mean? Thorough testing has shown that if you want an accurate and reliable breathalyser, the fuel cell breathalyser is a clear winner. Because when it comes to breathalysers, accuracy and reliability are vital.

For example, fuel cell breathalysers boast an accuracy range of 0.0005% BAC, compared to the 0.01% BAC accuracy of semiconductor models. This difference is crucial: with a margin of error of 0.01% BAC, a semiconductor breathalyser could misleadingly indicate that you are safe to drive when you might be over the legal limit of 0.05% BAC.

In addition to superior accuracy, fuel cell breathalysers are quicker to use, have a longer lifespan and produce more reliable results over time. The reliability over time is particularly important. Fuel cell breathalysers can remain accurate for hundreds, if not thousands, of tests before reliability can become an issue and recalibration is required, whereas semiconductor breathalysers require more frequent calibration to maintain their already lower accuracy levels.

The implications of using an inaccurate and unreliable breathalyser are significant. For instance, a 0.03% BAC reading on a semiconductor breathalyser could mean your actual BAC is over 0.05%. Relying on such a device to decide if you are fit to drive or work could place you and others in danger.

Why do people buy semiconductor breathalyser if they can be inaccurate and unreliable? It’s simply the price. They are more affordable, however, in this case you really do get what you pay for.

Buy a quality breathalyser at an affordable price

While quality fuel cell breathalyser are more expensive, they don’t cost the earth. And they can and do save lives.

Integrity Sampling offers the Drager Alcotest 4000 personal breathalyser online. This fuel cell breathalyser provides an accurate indication of whether you are safe and legal to drive and work. Trusted by police forces worldwide, it conducts over 30 million alcohol tests annually, ensuring reliability.

The Drager Alcotest 4000 features:

  • A replaceable mouthpiece to allow multiple users to hygienically use the device.
  • A user friendly display that guides you through correct operation with optional audio feedback.
  • A replaceable lithium battery to ensure long-lasting performance.
  • Quick start-up. In fact it’s ready to use in seconds with fast and easy results.
  • A compact size that is small enough to fit in your pocket or purse.

The Drager Alcotest 4000 is valued at $425, however, we currently have the breathalyser on special. In fact, up until the end of this financial year, you can pocket one – or more – for only $345, including free shipping and GST, by using the EOFY25 code at checkout.

Order today!

The Drager Alcotest 4000 is valued at $425, however, we currently have the breathalyser on special. In fact, up until the end of this financial year, you can pocket one – or more – for only $345, including free shipping and GST, by using the EOFY25 code at checkout.
The Drager Alcotest 4000 is valued at $425, however, we currently have the breathalyser on special.

Raising the standard in breathalysers

We should also point out that the Alcotest 4000 is certified and calibrated to AS 3547:2019 breath alcohol testing devices.

When buying a breathalyser in Australia, you should check for its compliance with Australian Standard AS3547:2019. This standard certifies that your breathalyser has been thoroughly tested and will perform as expected for the duration of its useful life.

The objective of this Standard is to specify requirements for the performance, testing and marking of breath alcohol testing devices for uses such as, but not limited to, personal, workplace and medical screening purposes.

By Michael

Michael is the founder of Integrity Sampling and is responsible for overseeing all national operations. He is based at Integrity Sampling's head office in Melbourne and is also responsible for the co-ordination of drug and alcohol testing within Victoria, assisting in the implementation of drug and alcohol (fit for work) policies and the presentation of drug and alcohol education and awareness programs. You can connect with Michael Wheeldon on LinkedIn

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