Revolutionizing Sobriety Testing: Breathalyzers on the Verge of Obsolescence

Apparently, the skin of the ears gives off ethanol vapors which could make using them instead of the lungs the next best thing for evaluating the levels of alcohol in the blood.



Will we soon have alcohol tests in our ears? This, at least, is what bioengineers at the Tokyo Medical University propose. In a study published June 10 in the journal Scientific Reports, they showed that the skin of the ears emits a gas containing ethanol values similar to those found in breathing. This makes it possible to think about less invasive and more hygienic alcohol level analysis devices.

Read Also: The Health Effects of Alcohol and Alcohol Use Disorders

Ear skin more accurate than hand skin

Japanese researchers have designed a kind of helmet or earpiece to detect whether someone has been drinking alcohol. This device measures the blood alcohol content through the skin, and more specifically through the skin of the ears. Sensors are installed in both ears to pick up the gases emitted from the skin, particularly those from ethanol vapors. If it detects such vapors, a lamp is lit, and, based on its intensity, the alcohol concentration can be calculated.

Read Also: Is There Really a Safe Amount of Alcohol to Consume?

The accuracy of the new device seems adequate. The experiment was conducted on the ears of three volunteers. They consumed alcohol at a concentration of 0.4 g per kg body weight for 140 minutes. The results of this new system were compared with a conventional test that uses breathalyzers to measure ethanol concentrations in the breath. The changes in ethanol concentration released from the ears and breath were similar over time for all three participants. In addition, the highest average concentration of ethanol released from the ears was 148 parts per billion, double the concentration previously reported as released from the skin of the hand.

Alcohol is bad for health no matter what

Be careful with alcohol consumption, even in moderation. A June 2020 study found that low alcohol consumption according to official recommendations also poses health risks. The researchers found that more than 50% of Cancers due to alcohol consumption occur among moderate drinkers and that 38% of all alcohol-related deaths are seen among former drinkers or drinkers who adhere to daily recommended limits. In short, it is better to avoid alcohol completely.

Read Also: Medical University of Vienna: Vitamin B1 May Help Prevent Alcohol-Related Dementia


External ears for non-invasive and stable monitoring of volatile organic compounds in human blood



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