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Variables Affecting the Accuracy and Precision of Breath Alcohol Instruments (Rose and Furton)

Variables Affecting the Accuracy and Precision of Breath Alcohol Instruments (Rose and Furton)

  1. Jatelka
    Unsure where/when this was published

    Stefan Rose, M.D. 1'2 , and Kenneth G. Furton, Ph.D.

    Breath testing instrument have been used extensively for the determination of ethanol in medicolegal investigations due to the simplicity in their operation, the relative portability of the instruments and the immediately available results. Unfortunately, breath alcohol instruments universally are prone to false positives (i.e. instrument reports ethanol is present when in fact it is responding to a different chemical) and falsely elevated breath values when ethanol is present (due to a variety of factors). The Intoxilyzer 5000 breath alcohol instrument is no exception and numerous studies have documented some of the sources of the errors with this instrument. The major types of variables discussed in this chapter include physiological (biological) variables and analytical (instrumental) variables with overlap between the two. The uncertainty in evidential breath-analyzer readings for a random subjects in the post-absorptive state has been determined to be as much as ±27% with over 90% of this uncertainty due to biological variables of the subject and at least 23% of subjects having their actual blood-alcohol concentration overestimated (Simpson 1987). The variables affecting the precision and accuracy of breath alcohol measurements discussed below are summarized in Table 1.
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