FAQ

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Intelligent Fingerprinting™ FAQ

How does this work?

The device screens for drugs of abuse by analysing chemicals (known as metabolites) contained in the minute traces of sweat found in a fingerprint. Metabolites are produced by the body as a result of normal metabolic processes and can be analysed to identify the substances a person has ingested, inhaled or injected. The presence of drug metabolites in someone’s fingerprint sweat indicates drug use by that individual.

What are its advantages?

Our drug screening technique is non-invasive and does not require specialized sample collection or biohazard precautions. The device is handheld and ideal for use in almost any location at any time. It provides results in less than 10 minutes and screens for multiple drugs of abuse in one cost-effective disposable test.

It is difficult to use?

The fingerprint sample is obtained on a collection cartridge, the screening device is touchscreen-operated and fully automated.

Which drugs will it detect?

Initially, the device will screen for five commonly abused groups of drugs: Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, Cannabis, Cocaine and Opiates.

Does it really take only minutes?

The device screens for multiple drugs of abuse in less than 10 minutes.

How accurate is it?

Our technique has been tested to ensure accuracy and precision. The test can be calibrated to different cut-off levels, which means the pass/fail criteria can be altered to different drug levels according to customer requirements.

What is the window of detection?

Our device screens for drugs by analysing fingerprint sweat which gives an indication of an individual’s recent drug use habits.

Should I be concerned about cross contamination?

The technique detects drug metabolites rather than the drugs themselves, so a positive result indicates that the person being screened has taken the drug and not simply touched a surface contaminated with the parent drug.

Is Intelligent Fingerprinting available now?

The device will be available in 2016 for selected applications.

How much does it cost?

Pricing of the device and the sample collection cartridges will depend on customer requirements and will vary depending upon the number of tests being carried out. The overall cost of carrying out a test will compare favorably with existing drug screens of similar complexity.
Feel free to contact us with specific pricing questions.

What size of particle is this measuring?

Picogram, measuring to the 1 trillionth of a gram.

How many picograms of drug metabolite are needed for a valid sample?

This varies between each drug group depending on the cut-off level. It is usually in the 10 to 100 pg picogram range.

Do you have FDA approval?

We are currently collating technical and design history files prior to seeking FDA approval for the device.

How else could the device be used?

Our fingerprint-based diagnostic technique has potential for use in many other areas such as healthcare, security and border control. Research and development is ongoing in these areas.

Will liquid ingested adulterants affect the test sample?

No.

What is the approximate analysis time per drug?

This will depend on how many drugs are being tested. Most tests will take less than 10 minutes.

Common Breathalyzer Myths

Myth: Chewing gum, breath mints, or mouthwash mask the alcohol

While these might help you convince your buddy that you haven’t been drinking, they don’t prevent a breathalyzer from detecting your intoxication. In the case of mouthwash, it might even contain some alcohol, in which case your BrAC can register even higher.

Myth: Sucking on a penny can beat a breathalyzer

This doesn’t work either, despite the fact that this myth is surprisingly widely-believed.

Myth: Smokers register lower on breathalyzers

There is something to this, but not much. While cheap semiconductor oxide sensing breathalizers might be affected if you have just partaken in some chain-smoking, this won’t affect more accurate fuel cell sensor breathalyzers, and wouldn’t matter anyway unless you just smoke a lot.

Myth: Putting a battery in your mouth beats a breathalyzer

This one must come from the knowledge that fuel cell breathalyzers operate by using an electrical current after creating a chemical reaction with the your breath. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, but you might have guess that.

Shipping FAQ

Do you accept purchase orders?

Yes, we do accept purchase orders from businesses. Please contact us for more information on how to submit your Purchase Order to us. All orders invoiced are subject to shipping charges.

How long does it take for my order to arrive?

Orders placed by 3:30 pm Central Standard Time will usually ship the same business day. If you need a delivery by a specific date including next day shipping, please choose one of the UPS shipping options from the drop down bar during checkout.

Please allow additional transit time for during weekends and holidays and to some rural areas. Also, please note that UPS next day air and 2nd day air orders will not be delivered on weekends. UPS only delivers orders on regular business days. (Monday – Friday)

What shipping carriers does Smartox™ use?

All products are shipped via UPS, this ensures the product gets to its destination and is tracked in the meantime.

I live outside the United States. Does Smartox™ ship international orders? How much will it cost?

Yes, we ship to most countries around the world. There are additional charges for international orders which will be displayed at time of checkout. Orders will take longer to reach destinations outside the United States. Shipping costs vary by weight and destination.

My order arrived damaged. What should I do?

Please contact us immediately if any item arrives damaged. We will ship a replacement order to you free of charge.

What is the return policy at Smartox™?

Any item may be returned within 30 days of purchase for a refund, minus a 15% shipping and restocking fee. Also, any item that is not working properly and is still within a warranty period may be returned for an exchange.

Contact us or call 888.711.9906 and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Didn’t find what you were looking for?

If you didn’t find your answer in this Frequently Asked Questions section, feel free to send us a note using our contact form.

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Breathalyzer FAQ

Why do I need a personal breathalyzer?

A Breathalyzer is a valuable purchase to ensure personal safety and the safety of others. An individual may purchase one for self-testing and monitoring for a general understanding of how alcohol affects the body.

Since factors like weight, muscle mass, and recently consumed food or beverages all affect the measurement of person’s breath alcohol content (BrAC), it’s impossible to accurately gauge intoxication level without a measurement tool like a breathalyzer. People are often enlightened when they measure their %BAC, particularly on different occasions after the same amount of alcohol is consumed.

What is calibration? Why do I need it?

Breathalyzers need to be calibrated at the recommended, regular intervals to ensure their ongoing accuracy. Calibration is the process of checking and adjusting the internal settings of a breathalyzer by comparing and adjusting its test results to a known and controlled alcohol standard. All breathalyzers, including professional and law enforcement breathalyzers, must undergo calibration regularly.

Calibration involves specialised equipment and factory-trained technicians capable of calibrating a breathalyzer to the highest stnadards. It is not a procedure that can be conducted at home or by untrained users.

You must calibrate your breathalyzer to maintain its accuracy. Otherwise, your breathalyzer will provide false readings.

Note that calibration is not included as a warranty service and incurs extra charges based on the unit.

What type of technology makes these devices work?

All breathalyzers sold by us are of high quality and accurate products, and meet the standards of FDA 510(k) cleared devices, which means that the product has been deemed “safe and effective” for consumer use. All of the devices that we offer have electrochemical fuel cell sensor (alcohol specific) technology.

These devices offer the following benefits

  • They will not show a false positive for someone who is diabetic or on a low calorie diet. Semiconductor models will sometimes show a false positive result for these individuals.
  • They provide more accurate and more consistent results as compared with semi-conductor models. For example, you are more likely to show the same test result when you test someone repeatedly in a very short period of time. In addition, they are more accurate at higher BrAC concentrations, compared to semiconductor models, which often lose accuracy at higher BrAC values.
  • They can remain accurate for up to thousands of tests.
  • They provide more precise readings since %BrAC readings are displayed to the thousandth decimal place (0.054%) versus to the hundredth decimal place (0.05%).

Breathalyzers that utilize fuel cell sensors typically sell for over $450; however, this technology is becoming more affordable.

Which model is right for me?

If you are interested in getting the highest level of accuracy in your readings, our recommendation is to spend the extra money on a breathalyzer that uses fuel cell sensor technology. These breathalyzers offer the same advanced technology used by law enforcement for preliminary screenings for a fraction of what they have previously cost. Law enforcement, substance abuse centers, clinics and businesses typically purchase these models, although they are often purchased for individual use too.

What factors are important in choosing a breathalyzer?

Accuracy is likely the most important factor when making a breathalyzer purchase, so you should consider the Sensor Type – Semiconductor versus Fuel Cell Versus Semi-conductor versus Fuel Cell. Fuel cell sensors will give much more accurate readings than semiconductors being that the sensors are alcohol specific.

FDA Approval is another important requirement to consider when choosing a breathalyzer. Every personal breathalyzer sold through our site meets the standards of a FDA 510(k) cleared device, which means the product has been deemed “safe and effective” for consumer use.

Breath Sample Collection is an essential factor, and critical to an accurate breathalyzer reading. While the use of mouthpieces is one element that aids in obtaining breath samples that exclude external air, other aids to accuracy are found in the actual product design.

Lastly, you should look at the Brand of Breathalyzer you are purchasing. The manufacturer should be reputable, in the business of selling breathalyzers, specifically, for an extended period of time.

How does a breathalyzer work?

Most breathalyzers use one of three technologies to detect Breath Alcohol Content or Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC), which is the concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath: a semiconductor oxide sensor, a fuel cell sensor or a spectrophotometer, the latter being the technology used in large, table-top breathalyzers often found at police stations.

Semiconductor oxide-based testers, offer benefits, including low cost, low power consumption and small size. However, Semiconductor oxide based testers require calibration service on a more frequent basis.

Fuel cell testers, In over 30 US states, roadside evidential testing is now permitted using testers using fuel cells. A fuel cell measures alcohol content by creating a chemical reaction that oxidizes the alcohol in the sample and produces an electrical current. The more alcohol that is oxidized, the greater the current. The current is measured to determine the subject’s BrAC.

Spectrophotometer technology is used in large, table-top breathalyzers often found at police stations. Spectrophotometers work by identifying molecules based on the way they absorb infrared light. The level of ethanol in a sample is singled out and measured, and a subject’s alcohol level can then be determined.

What is %BrAC?

Breath Alcohol Content or Breath Alcohol Concentration, abbreviated BrAC, is the concentration of alcohol in a person’s breath. BrAC is most commonly used as a metric of intoxication for legal or medical purposes, and it’s usually measured as mass per volume. For example, a BrAC of 0.05% means 0.05 grams of alcohol per 100 grams of a person’s breath, or 0.5 grams of alcohol per 1000 grams of blood.

Factors that affect your BrAC include the following

  • Age – As you age, the intoxicating effects of alcohol become increasingly pronounced.
  • Gender – Alcohol is highly water soluble. Because women generally have lower water content in their bodies than men, they usually reach a higher BrAC if they consume alcohol at a similar rate to their male counterparts, even if they are the same age and weight. Women also have a lower quantity of an enzyme in their stomachs that breaks down alcohol than men.
  • Rate of Consumption – The faster you consume alcohol, the faster your BrAC will rise.
  • Drink Strength – The more alcohol a drink contains, the more will end up in your bloodstream.
  • Body Type – The more you weigh, the more water you tend to have in your body, which has a diluting effect on the alcohol you consume. That’s why larger people usually require more drinks to “keep pace” with their smaller companions.
  • Fat/Muscle Content – Fatty tissue is low in water content and cannot absorb alcohol, and the alcohol must remain in the bloodstream until the liver can break it down. However, tissues that are higher in water content, such as muscle, do absorb alcohol. Hence BrAC will usually be higher in the person with more body fat.
  • Metabolism – “Metabolic tolerance” varies from person to person and describes the rate at which alcohol is processed by the body.
  • Emotional State – Stress can cause your body to divert blood from your stomach and small intestines to your muscles, and slow down the rate of absorption of alcohol into your bloodstream. When you calm down and your blood flows normally again, you may experience a surge in your BrAC.
  • Medications – Many medications react negatively with alcohol, including cold or allergy pills and prescription drugs. They can intensify the effects of alcohol and even endanger your health. If you are taking meds, check the product labels for alcohol warnings, or consult your doctor or pharmacist before you drink.
  • Food – If you drink alcohol on an empty stomach, your BAC will be higher than a person who has eaten before drinking. Food slows the absorption in your bloodstream by keeping the alcohol you consume in your stomach and for a longer period of time.
  • Carbonation – Carbonated drinks such as sparkling wine or champagne, or mixed drinks with sodas may increase the rate at which alcohol passes through your stomach and result in a higher BrAC.
  • Diabetes – Alcohol can affect the glucose levels of people who have diabetes and cause hypoglycemia. Diabetics should consult their doctors about drinking alcohol and avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Alcohol Intolerance – Alcohol may cause adverse reactions in some, including flushing of the skin, nasal congestion, elevated heart rate, and reduced blood pressure. According to the Mayo Clinic, alcohol intolerance is caused by a “genetic condition in which the body is unable to break down alcohol.”

Am I safe to drive if my breathalyzer shows that I'm under the legal limit?

Absolutely not. Breathalyzers are for informational purposes only and there is no acceptable level of alcohol consumption that makes it safe to drive. Any alcohol that enters a person’s body can impair reflexes, motor skills, and cognitive abilities.

Is a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) the only factor in determining whether or not a DUI is given?

No, the %BAC is not the only factor considered. Many people do not realize they can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) even if their %BAC is under the legal limit. A person can be charged if they are at or over the “legal limit,” which is .08 %BAC in all 50 US States, or if they are “impaired to any degree,” regardless of the %BAC level.

Who invented the breathalyzer?

Though technologies for detecting alcohol vary, it’s widely accepted that Dr. Robert Borkenstein (1912-2002), a captain with the Indiana State Police and later a professor at the University of Indiana, is regarded as the first to create a device that measures a subject’s alcohol level based on a breath sample. In 1954, Borkenstein invented his breathalyzer, that used chemical oxidation and photometry to determine alcohol concentration. The invention of the breathalyzer provided law enforcement with a non-invasive test with immediate result reporting that can be used to determine an individual’s level of intoxication.

Is there any way to trick a breathalyzer?

No, only time will bring your BrAC level down on a fuel cell sensor breathalyzer device.

How accurate are breathalyzers?

Breathalyzers estimate BrAC based on a breath sample, and will not be as accurate as when a sample of blood is tested for alcohol content. However, fuel cell breathalyzers are highly accurate if calibrated according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. When used correctly, breathalyzers provide a very close estimate of our BrAC. Every breathalyzer has an accuracy range, usually +/- 0.01%BAC from the given reading. Any breathalyzer that claims 100% accuracy is making a false statement, so don’t bother searching for them.

Can breathalyzer results be used in court?

Results from personal breathalyzers will not be upheld in court, and should be strictly used to increase the awareness of your blood alcohol concentration.

Can a breathalyzer prove intoxication in court?

It depends on the type of breathalyzer. Professional-grade portable units used in roadside sobriety tests are quite accurate, but are still not used as sole proof of intoxication. Their results are used in combination with a coordination test and other symptoms to establish a full pattern of intoxicated symptoms.

However, non-portable breathalyzers, such as done at a police station or hospital, are much more accurate, and can hold their own muster as court evidence.

I don't feel fine, but my breathalyzer says I'm under the legal limit. Can I drive?

Everyone is affected by alcohol very differently and there are many factors that can affect your BAC reading. Keep in mind that just because you’re under the legal limit doesn’t mean you’re okay to drive. If you don’t feel fine, don’t drive.

Can I test other people with the same breathalyzer?

Yes you can. To be sanitary we recommend using new, unused mouthpieces to test others. Also, be sure that the other person is using the breathalyzer correctly, i.e. that they have waited at least 15 minutes after the last meal or drink before taking a test.

Can breathalyzers detect marijuana or other substances?

Breathalyzers cannot detect marijuana, and can generally not detect the usage of other illegal substances. However, there are substances that can interfere with a breathalyzer. Mouthwash or other substances that contain traces of alcohol can result in a higher reading, and invalidate the results. The same can happen for some substances with similar molecular structure to alcohol, such as acetone, paint fumes, and varnish.

Want more info? Contact us today.

Call 888.711.9906 or email our staff.