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The Champion

March 2006 , Page 57 

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The Slope Detector Does Not Always Detect The Presence Of Mouth Alcohol

By Michael P. Hlastala

The alcohol breath test is an indirect means of estimating the blood alcohol concentration (BAC). The most important assumption is that after a prolonged exhalation, the end-exhaled breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) accurately reflects the alveolar air, and hence, BAC. Implicit in that assumption is that no alcohol has been added to the breath as it passes from the lungs to the breath-testing unit (BTU). However, if there is alcohol in the oral cavity or pharynx, it will vaporize during exhalation and add to the BrAC. The functions of the slope detector have been designed with the goal of ensuring that a valid alveolar air sample is obtained.

Exhaled breath is monitored during the exhalation to obtain a suitable breath sample. Under normal circumstances, BrAC increases during exhalation. The original developers of the breath test reasoned that the BrAC rise would continue until the alveolar air was obtained, at which point the BrAC would level off. The first purpose of the slope dete

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