How does a breathalyzer work?

The Breathalyzer is one the device to sense alcohol in the suspected people. This device is widely established to check the alcohol content in drivers. Alcohol can be detected from breathe of a drunken individual. When alcohol is consumed it gets absorbed in the mouth and stays for a period in the breath and also absorbed by throat, stomach and intestines. Finally it will get dissolved in blood. Hence the content of alcohol can be detected in blood also.

What happens in the blood stream is that alcohol will not get digested when it is absorbed. Alcohol passes along with blood to the lungs where it finally reaches air sacs called as alveoli. Since alcohol is volatile, the concentration of alcohol in air alveoli is directly related to the concentration of alcohol in the blood. Hence alcohol can be detected from breath.

Breathalyzer will help to measure the blood alcohol content in order to detect the level of alcohol abused. This kind of test is called as breath alcohol test.

Breathalyzer machine is composed of two tubes which are disposable containing chemical mixture. The tubes consist of mixture of sulphuric acid and potassium dichromate in one vial and silver nitrate and water in another vial. Sulphuric acid will collect the alcohol from air and allow it to react it with potassium dichromate. The reaction in turn produces chromium sulfate and potassium sulfate. The reaction is catalyzed by the silver nitrate. The yellowish orange color of the potassium dichromate will turn in to green chromium sulfate in the presence of alcohol in the sample. Thus breathalyzer works by producing color change in the sample and are read by meter. Breathalyzer reading is accurate as that of laboratory test. Alcohol content in drivers is thus detected by the device.

Related Links:
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Suggested Reading:
How to use breathalyzer – breathalyzer kit
Myths of using breathalyzers
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Breathalyzer accuracy
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Passing A Breathalyzer Test Is Important For On The Road Driving

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