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Breath alcohol analysis was developed as an alternative to more invasive types of testing a person for a volume of alcohol consumption. More simply put, it is much easier to obtain a person’s breath sample than to perform a blood test or asking a subject to urinate into a cup. Unlike other testing methods, breath alcohol testers provide immediate results, and most importantly, breath alcohol analysis is as accurate as other means. Here’s why: Henry’s Law

According to Henry’s Law, the concentration of a volatile substance in the air above a fluid is proportional to the concentration of the volatile substance in the fluid. Applying this law, the volatile substance is alcohol, the air above is the alveoli or deep lung air, and the fluid is blood.

Blood Test = Breath Test

The blood:breath ratio of 2100:1 has been widely accepted for use in computing blood alcohol concentration from breath. This means that 2,100 milliliters of deep lung air will contain the same amount of alcohol as one milliliter of blood.

Therefore, a Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) is as accurate as a blood test or a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). A breath alcohol analysis expresses alcohol concentration by indicating a weight by volume relationship. Specifically, the instrument found a weight of alcohol expressed in grams per 210 liters of breath from the person who was tested.

Going Deep

In performing a breath alcohol test, it is important to analyze an alveolar or deep lung air sample. If a deep lung sample in not obtained, the sample analyzed could be diluted with breath of a lower alcohol concentration from the upper respiratorty tract. This would result in a lower than optimum test result. When correctly operated, all results from an Intoxilyzer® breath alcohol instrument will be obtained from a deep lung sample. The instruments require the test subject to blow for a minimum time which ensures that the analyzed sample came from the alveolar air region of the lungs.

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