It was reported today on the UK news that UK ministers are consulting with the Scottish government, on whether lowering the drink drive level in Scotland to 0.05% BAC has had a significant impact on road safety in Scotland. The level for the rest of the UK remains at the higher 0.08% BAC currently, although the department of transport has been quoted as saying there are no current plans to lower the level.
Screening for alcohol levels is now easier than ever. There are a complete range of single use testing kits which will allow instant screening to either a pre set cut off level or even give a semi quantitive indicator of the detected level.
The biotechnology in these tests is now well tested and most come with a full set of quality certification, ensuring a high level of accuracy if used to the manufacturers guidelines.
Most instant tests are actually set to Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) cut off levels. This can seem a little confusing when you are running a test on either saliva or breath, but with all the legislation referenced to BAC this actually makes sense. It also makes changing from saliva to breath screening a lot simpler, eliminating the need to cross reference different scales of measurement.
So what is available in todays market. Lets first look at the options for single use breath alcohol testers. All contain a chemical crystal, which on exposure to alcohol changes colour. By altering the chemical, this colour change can be made to occur only when a predetermined level of alcohol is reached. This makes it possible to set UK HSE breath alcohol testers to give positive results at alcohol levels of 0.02%BAC Scottish and French (EU) driving level cut of alcohol testers at alcohol levels of 0.05%BAC and UK England & Wales driving limit alcohol testers at alcohol levels of 0.08%BAC All three options are also available in triple test packs and double test packs with blow bags.
By altering the chemical slightly it is also possible to make it change colour to a greater degree at higher alcohol exposure levels. This makes it possible to turn the alcohol tester from a simple cut off positive or negative test, into a semi quantitive breath alcohol test. The darker the shade of colour change, the higher the alcohol level detected. By reading the colour change showing at a set time these alcohol testers give a guide to the actual blood alcohol level at the time of testing.
Breath testing is easy, cheap and reliable. All these alcohol testers are single use disposable test kits. Expiry dates are normally 24-36 months and storage is normally at room temperature with no special requirements. Two, ten second blows are needed to get an accurate reading. In donors with poor lung function, asthma, bronchitis etc this may render the test useless, so an option for these tests would be a saliva test strip alcohol tester.
Alcohol saliva testing is as simple and reliable as saliva drug testing, and indeed an ever increasing range of saliva drug tests do incorporate a saliva alcohol test strip with a 0.02%BAC sensitivity for workplace HSE screening.
The biotechnology is similar to the chemical breathalyser reaction with a colour change on a pad to which the saliva is added. The colour change is compared to a reference colour chart and the best match selected to give a semi quantitive alcohol level.
Both single use chemical breathalyser alcohol testers and saliva alcohol test strips are suitable for healthcare and workplace alcohol screening. Backed up with a digital breathalyser, these screens offer flexible, multi-location screening ability within a site or business. All test results are screening only, non evidential and all non negative results for alcohol should be confirmed using an accredited laboratory service offering evidential and chain of custody controlled certified results.
We are often asked which of the range of digital breathalysers currently on the market offers the best value for money while still giving accurate readings.
The UK is currently flooded with very cheap breathalysers retailing for under £10 on many auction site. Many are offered from Hong Kong or other off shore locations and suggest high levels of accuracy and performance. Most of these models will not give any reliable readings and the seller will usually be untraceable if customer service is required.
With digital breathalysers you get what you pay for. Look for a reliable seller and check them out before you purchase. They need established experience of digital breathalysers and should offer a full range of breathalysers, spares and consumables such as www.valuebreathalysers.co.uk
So which breathalyser is recommended as best value for money. It still remains the DA5000 hand held digital breathalyser. The DA5000 breathalyser offers excellent accuracy, low cost consumables and spares, has been available since 2008 and is expected to continue in manufacture for many years due to its popularity and cost. Used by 1000’s of purchasers for years and with high reliablility, it remains the best value on the market currently.
Cheap digital breathalysers don’t work. A UK investigation into digital breathalysers being offered on e-bay and other auction sites for as little as £3.00 found that without exception the units either failed completely or gave wildly inaccurate readings.
The advice was clear. Do not buy from un-identified private traders. Ensure companies are offering full post sales support and look for expert knowledge in the field together with clear UK based contact details
Expect to pay £40.00 upwards for a serious digital breathalyser with service capability (all breathalysers will need regular servicing to maintain accuracy) Digital breathalysers below this and without service ability or changeable sensors must be viewed as consumable/disposable.
Digital Breathalyzers are available for personal and business (also healthcare) users from a variety of professional suppliers.
As the breathalyzers require specialist servicing and technical support, they have not been sold via major electrical retailers, so most suppliers are internet specialist companies such as valuebreathalysers.co.uk
Digital Alcohol Breathalyzers use digital semi-conductor and fuel cell technologies to selectively detect alcohol being excreated via the lungs to determine actual blood alcohol levels at the time of testing.
Samples are taken over 5 seconds and unit levels are displayed after conversion to usually either %BAC or mg/100ml BAC. Some models are available which directly display the breath alcohol concentration BrAC, but these are rare.
Cheaper digital breathalyzer units should be avoided because they are inaccurate and un-reliable. Entry level guidance is £40, expect to pay £80-100 for a high end alcohol breathalyzer unit with inbuilt electronic safety checking technologies (these ensure the unit tells you if it needs servicing)