Understanding How Breathalyzers Work

Drinking alcohol before or during work poses a health hazard to employees, customers, and others. Furthermore, the state of Arizona has imposed a legal limit of 0.08% blood alcohol concentration for general drivers and 0.04% blood alcohol concentration for commercial drivers. A breathalyzer is a simple drug testing device that measures the amount of alcohol present in the breath, then uses this information to extrapolate the amount of alcohol in the body. Keep reading to learn how these devices work and how Oschmann Employee Screening Services can help you ensure your employees are sober and safe.

How Alcohol Reaches the Lungs

When alcohol is imbibed, it is first digested in the stomach. From there, it is carried through the blood to the organs and tissues of the body—including the lungs, where it is exhaled. Thus, the amount of alcohol in the blood can be determined by measuring the amount of alcohol present in the breath.

How Blood Alcohol Concentration Is Measured

A breathalyzer drug testing device measures the amount of alcohol in the breath when a person exhales. Inside the breathalyzer are two glass vials, each containing the same chemical mixture of sulfuric acid, potassium dichromate, silver nitrate and pure water. Blood alcohol concentration is measured by breathing into the device; the breath is bubbled through one vial, while the other acts as a control. As the exhaled breath moves through the chemical solution, the alcohol in the air is removed by the sulfuric acid. The alcohol then reacts with the potassium dichromate, which causes the chemical mixture to change color. This color change is compared with the control vial and the degree of change is used to determine blood alcohol concentration.

Oschmann Employee Screening Services is an authorized Lifeloc Technologies distributor. We will show you how to use, calibrate, and maintain your drug testing equipment for the most accurate results. Click through our website or call us at (520) 745-1029 or toll-free at (800) 224-8532 to learn more about our employee drug testing equipment and services in Arizona.

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