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Railways Minister: 1,761 loco pilots failed breathalyser tests in 5 years

A total of 1,761 loco pilots have failed the Breathalyser (BA) test in the last five years, Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw informed Rajya Sabha on Friday. While replying to an unstarred question posed by Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi, the Union Minister of Railways said that a total of 8,28,03,387 BA tests […]

A total of 1,761 loco pilots have failed the Breathalyser (BA) test in the last five years, Union Minister of Railways Ashwini Vaishnaw informed Rajya Sabha on Friday. While replying to an unstarred question posed by Rajya Sabha MP Sushil Kumar Modi, the Union Minister of Railways said that a total of 8,28,03,387 BA tests were conducted in the last five years and 1,761 number of loco pilots, the highest — 521 from Northern Railway — have failed the test.
The railways routinely carry out breathalyser tests as a safety measure to prevent consumption of alcohol during duty hours. The loco pilots, who have failed the test are not allowed to run the train and suitable disciplinary actions are taken as per laid down policies. “In order to ensure safe train operation, Loco Pilots are required to undergo Breathalyser (BA) test in respective lobbies. In last five years, out of total number of 8,28,03,387 BA tests conducted, 1761 number of Loco Pilots, in which 674 number of passenger Loco Pilots and 1087 number of Goods Loco Pilots, have failed the test,” Railways Minister informed the Upper House. While the highest number of loco pilots who have failed the tests are from Northern Railway, the lowest– 12– loco pilots are from Southern Railway, as per the zone-wise data provided by the railways minister.

Breathalyzer test
A breathalyzer test is a diagnostic device that measures how much alcohol is in the air a person breathes out. It can be used to estimate blood alcohol content (BAC), or how much alcohol is in the blood.

How it works and what it measures
A breathalyzer test measures BAC, which reflects the percentage of alcohol in a person’s blood. Authorities can use BAC levels to gauge a person’s level of intoxication. Following alcohol consumption, the body absorbs this chemical through the stomach lining into the bloodstream. As blood passes through the lungs, some alcohol evaporates and moves into the lungs.

The concentration of alcohol in the lungs relates to the concentration present in the blood. By using a partition ratio, it is possible to determine the BAC almost instantly from the air a person exhales rather than requiring a blood sample. The ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol is roughly 2,100:1.

This means that roughly 2,100 milliliters (ml) of breath will contain the same amount of alcohol as 1 ml of blood. Using the partition ratio, a breathalyzer can calculate a person’s BAC. Generally, a breathalyzer is able to measure BAC due to a chemical reaction.

The alcohol vapor in a person’s breath reacts with an orange solution known as potassium dichromate. When alcohol is present, this solution turns green. This color change creates an electrical current, which the breathalyzer can convert into a value to determine the BAC.

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