Although exhaled alcohol detectors have been used for decades to check the level of alcohol in a driver’s blood, these tests do have drawbacks. However, in the near future, police and other personnel may use a simple ribbon test kit to get better results.
Exhalation alcohol detectors work by measuring a person’s alcohol level, which is usually associated with the amount of alcohol circulating in their blood. Having said that, using mouthwash or breath fresheners or using acetone in the breathing of diabetics may disrupt readings. In addition, the user must blow for 10 seconds, which means that the device cannot be used by unconscious or uncooperative people.
With these restrictions in mind, scientists from the State University of New York at Albany are developing test paper that applies only to the skin of suspects. Once such a strip is in place, the enzymes in it react with any alcohol content present in the person’s sweat, resulting in colored spots on the strip. The darker the color, the higher the alcohol content in the blood. Scientists plan to require the development of a smartphone app that will precisely match a given color level with a specific blood alcohol content (BAC) number.
In tests of the technology, 26 volunteers drank several glasses of vodka to get 0.08 percent BAC. Over the next few hours, these people were tested more than 100 times using commercial exhalation alcohol detectors and test paper. A “strong correlation” was found between readings obtained through both methods.
“There is a direct relationship between blood and alcohol in sweat,” said associate professor Jan Hal?mek, who led the study. Through our research, we found that when an individual drinks an alcoholic beverage, the alcohol content in their blood increases at a similar rate as that of the alcohol in their sweat. This finding could have a significant impact on law enforcement officials’ assessment and prevention of drink driving. “
The study was described in a recent paper published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.