Alcohol Testing Kit: What Are The Common Types?
07 November, 2023
An alcohol testing kit is an equipment that detects alcohol in a person’s system. It comes in several types, with a breathalyser, urine, and saliva test kit as the most common. The use of each device depends on the desired accuracy, detection time, and ease of use. In addition, these tools are used in various settings, such as healthcare, workplaces, and law enforcement. Individuals may also use such equipment for personal purposes.
The need for alcohol testing is becoming increasingly important as the number of alcohol-related incidents affects many areas. Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to health problems, accidents, and even death. It is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents and road casualties. Thus, many individuals and organisations use an alcohol tester. In this article, we will explore the common types of alcohol testing equipment and how they work.
Breathalyser as an Alcohol Testing Kit
A breathalyser is a portable electronic device that analyses the breath sample for the presence of alcohol. It is one of the most common types of alcohol testing kits that gives instant results. The device can also measure Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), which indicates the level of impairment. Moreover, the device is suitable for personal and professional use.
Breath alcohol devices come in two types: semiconductor and fuel cell sensors. A semiconductor breathalyser uses a chemical reaction to estimate the BAC. It is usually less expensive, making it ideal for personal use. This device can help individuals monitor their alcohol consumption, preventing them from driving impaired or exceeding the legal driving limit.
On the other hand, a fuel cell breathalyser uses an electrochemical reaction when it comes in contact with alcohol. It is more expensive and larger than a semiconductor device. Furthermore, fuel cell technology gives police-grade accuracy, making it reliable for professional testing. Portable and more affordable models are also available for personal use.
How to Operate a Breathalyser
- Attach a mouthpiece to the breathalyser.
- Turn the device on and wait for the sensors to warm up.
- Blow into the mouthpiece for a few seconds, and it reads “Complete”, or the beeping sound stops.
- In passive mode, the sensors will detect alcohol and display a Pass or Fail result after a few seconds. A failed result is if alcohol is present in the breath.
- In active mode, the sensors calculate the content of alcohol in the breath and convert it into a BAC percentage value.
- To perform another test, wait for a few seconds before blowing into the mouthpiece again.
Urine-Based Alcohol Testing Kit
A urine-based alcohol testing kit is another common tool to detect alcohol. It detects the presence of ethanol metabolites in the urine sample. These kits are common in workplaces, rehabilitation centres, and other settings due to their convenience and ease of use. Additionally, this type of alcohol tester can detect alcohol for up to 48 hours.
A urine test kit includes a sample container, a test strip, and instructions. To perform the test, the individual collects an adequate amount of urine in the test cup. Then, they dip the test strip into the sample and wait for a few minutes before checking the results. Afterwards, it will show the result whether there is the absence of presence of alcohol.
It is important to note that screening test kits often give qualitative results. It does not measure blood alcohol levels. Moreover, it is often used in conjunction with drug screening. If the results indicate the presence of alcohol, a confirmation test via a laboratory procedure is necessary. It may employ advanced methods like GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) to measure the amount of alcohol.
How it Works
After consuming alcohol, the liver metabolises it and produces byproducts like acetaldehyde and EtG. These metabolites stay in urine for a certain period. After sample collection, the test strip that contains an antibody reacts with the metabolites upon contact. This process is called immunoassay, and it gives quicker results than laboratory testing.
If there is a reaction, the strip changes its colour. This indicates that the person has consumed alcohol at some point. On the other hand, if the sample does not contain alcohol, the test strip will remain unchanged. A colour chart can also help determine if it is a negative result or not.
Saliva-based Alcohol Testing Kit
The saliva-based alcohol testing kit can detect and measure a person’s BAC. This type of alcohol tester utilises saliva or oral fluid samples to determine if an individual has consumed alcohol for 12 to 24 hours after consumption. It can be an efficient alternative to urine screening devices if the person cannot produce a sample. It is also a relatively less expensive and non-invasive device.
The testing kit usually consists of a collection swab and a handheld analyser. Many Australian workplaces use this method due to its convenience. Like urine screening kits, this device uses a visual immunoassay, where it relies on cues to measure antibodies in the sample.
The benefit of saliva testing is it can be used anywhere. It is suitable for onsite alcohol testing during regular drug screening, post-incident, or where there is reasonable suspicion. In addition, since it has a short detection window, it is suitable for determining recent consumption. A saliva-based alcohol test typically ranges from 0.00 to 0.30% BAC, which can be more limited than breath testers.
How to Use Saliva Strip Testers
Using saliva strip testers is easy and straightforward. Start by collecting a sample of saliva in the swab stick. It is vital to follow the instructions provided with the testing kit. Some tests may require placing the strip under the tongue, while others may include rubbing the inside of the cheek.
Allow the strip to absorb the saliva for at least one minute. Then, immerse the collection swab in the provided container for several minutes and compare the reaction change to the colour chart. In other cases, the sample is sealed in a container and sent to a laboratory for analysis.
Alcohol test kits are a convenient method to detect the presence of alcohol in an individual. Such devices are becoming increasingly sought-after because they provide quick results. It is suitable for workplaces with alcohol policies to monitor impairment or alcohol abuse. It can also help prevent or minimise the risk of accidents. One of the common types is the breath alcohol testing equipment. It is easy to use, requiring a breath sample to determine the BAC.
Other methods include urine and saliva drug tests with alcohol. Urine testing can detect ethanol metabolites for longer periods. On the other hand, saliva testing is non-invasive and more accurate for short-term alcohol consumption. It is essential to follow the guidelines in using this equipment to get reliable readings. Likewise, ensure the use of quality products that adhere to Australian Standards. Finally, the testing option will depend on the situation like pre-employment, reasonable suspicion, or post-accident.