What are the top methods of alcohol testing?

The top alcohol testing methods on the market today are a blood alcohol test, urinalysis or a breath test. While the most common type of test being used is the breathalyzer for their simple and non-invasive process. 

What are the differences between the breathalyzers on the market today?

All breathalyzers perform the same function, the main difference lies in how the analysis is performed. The three main types of breathalyzers on the market today are: semiconductor, fuel cell, and spectrophotometer. A semiconductor breathalyzer uses an electric current. This type of breathalyzer is relatively reliable, but only for consumer use. It can be affected by cigarette smoke or even certain hair sprays, which can lead to false positives. It also requires frequent recalibration to prevent wide variations over multiple uses. A fuel cell breathalyzer is popular with both law enforcement and consumers alike due to their accuracy and portability. These breathalyzers can go for up to a year without recalibration, and equate a spot-on reading for both consumer and professional use. Spectrophotometer work by identifying molecules based on the way they absorb infrared light. It is normally the last resort due to its price and complexity. In most cases, these are only used to confirm results when another type of breathalyzer comes up positive. This bulky and expensive item is not available at mainstream retailers because it is restricted to the professional market. 

What is transdermal alcohol testing?

Transdermal alcohol testing measures the ethanol vapor in an individual’s perspiration. The electronic monitoring device is affixed to a person’s ankle. The device conducts a reading by taking a sweat sample from the skin of the ankle. There are two major drawbacks of this testing method. The first is that they cannot be submersed in water, making it impossible to swim or take a bath. This can make it difficult to keep the area beneath the device clean and could result in a mild to severe skin rash. The second is that there is a possibility for false positives if the person wearing the device uses nail polish, perfumes, or cleaning materials with alcohol in them. Vapors from the surrounding area can trigger the bracelet, even if those vapors do not originate in the skin.

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