Science

Fight against drunken driving set to get a fillip

Sunderarajan Padmanabhan New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on October 31, 2017

It will probably now become more difficult for those who drink and drive to escape the long arm of the law. The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) here has set up a facility for calibration of alcohol breath analysers used by police.

The new facility will help the traffic police to ensure the accuracy and reliability of their alcoholmeters. NPL is the national custodian for standards for all types of measurements.

Alcohol breath analysis is used to enforce laws relating to driving under the influence of alcohol as well as for forensic testing. “The accuracy and reliability of breath alcohol testing devices is critical to ensure successful prosecution. And accuracy directly depends on the calibration source used to verify breath alcohol analysers. Using standard reference material improves the reliability of measurements,” Dr R.K. Kotnala, Head of the Environmental Sciences and Biomedical Metrology Division at NPL, said while speaking to India Science Wire.

The law enforcement agencies would be provided with reference material consisting of a sample of alcohol at a concentration of 0.3 per cent so that they can calibrate their devices on their own regularly without having to visit NPL every now and then. They would, however, have to send their devices for a thorough check and recalibration once a year.

The new calibration service was launched at a seminar on Tuesday. NPL has also launched a calibration facility for defibrillators installed at airports and other public places as part of their first-aid kits. The defibrillators are life-saving equipment but their effectiveness depends on how much energy is provided to the patient. It is critical that the right level of electric pulses is given. Anything lower will not be effective, while a pulse larger than needed can even result in death.

The facility will help calibrate the equipment with high precision in line with the requirement of energy function specified in the international standard for medical electrical equipment.

In addition, a reference gas standard for precise measurement of nitrous oxides and other pollutant gases has also been unveiled. At present, NPL disseminates standards for various greenhouse gases as also national ambient air quality standards parameters such as PM 2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulphur oxides, and particulate lead, arsenic and nickel.

The new initiative widens the spectrum with the establishment of facilities for preparation of primary gas mixtures, their analytical validation and impurity analyses. “Our facilities meet specified uncertainty and accuracy levels of less than one per cent required in many critical industries such as automobiles,” Dr Kotnala added.

(India Science Wire)

Twitter handle: @ndpsr

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Published on October 31, 2017
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