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Cancer risk from controversial alcohol tests

Cancer risk from controversial alcohol tests

Environmentalists warn of carcinogenic substances in alcohol tests

In France, drivers will have to carry a device for alcohol testing in the future. The constant availability of the alcohol test is intended to improve the possibilities for self-monitoring and thus to prevent alcohol-related accidents. But as is so often the case, the opposite of doing well is clearly meant. Because the available alcohol tests contain carcinogenic substances, which can become a considerable problem, especially when disposing of the blowpipes, according to the current announcement by the French section of the environmental protection organization Robin Wood.

In the land of wine drinkers, motorists have recently been obliged to carry alcohol testing devices. Before starting the journey, drivers can easily check their alcohol level using the test and, if in doubt, leave the vehicle at a standstill. The improved possibilities of self-regulation should lead to fewer people getting behind the wheel while drunk. In this way, lawmakers in France hope to significantly reduce the number of fatal car accidents because alcohol is involved in almost a third of these tragic events. For comparison: In Germany only around ten percent of fatal car accidents happen under the influence of alcohol.

Carrying the alcohol test for self-control Since July 1, 2012, motorcyclists and motorists in France have had to carry a device for the alcohol test in their vehicles. Legislators are relying on improved self-control by drivers, although it is controversial whether this will actually have a positive impact on future accident statistics. Opponents of the new regulation assume that the measure will hardly have any effect on the accidents. Not least because most drivers used to know when they had too much wine, beer or schnapps even without the test. At the time, they simply ignored this and such behavior cannot be ruled out when carrying out an alcohol test. Only a technical solution would help here, which makes it impossible to start the vehicle as soon as the permitted alcohol level is exceeded. However, car manufacturers and the proposals of French legislators are far from that.

Carcinogenic substances in the alcohol test Instead, French politicians are hoping for voluntary self-regulation. The obligation to carry the alcohol test equipment, which also applies to foreign drivers, actually had the consequence that at the beginning of the month the 1.50 euro puff tubes were completely sold out in many places. Supermarkets, petrol stations and pharmacies could hardly keep up with the repeat orders. According to media reports, the first bottlenecks have also appeared at the suppliers. However, this could change suddenly in the coming days after the environmental organization Robin Wood warned of possible health risks from the alcohol tests. According to the President of Robin Wood's French section, Jacky Bonnemains, "the rapid tests contain potassium dichromate, a substance classified as carcinogenic and very toxic to aquatic organisms."

Even if there is no health risk when using the alcohol tests, the question of disposal arises afterwards. Because the carcinogenic substances contained get into the environment, threatening significant health impairments for humans and animals. The authorities therefore have to ask themselves where the estimated 80 million alcohol tests per year can be appropriately disposed of in France, said the experts from Robin Wood.

Disposal of substances hazardous to health in France unclear The French authorities have long been aware of the health risk posed by the substances contained in the alcohol tests. Not without a round they have expressly pointed out that they do not get into the hands of children and should therefore be kept safely in the car. Ideally in the trunk and not in the glove compartment.

But apparently no further thought was given to the problem of disposing of the substances hazardous to health. For example, the French Ministry of the Environment only took up the issue after Robin Wood's advice and is currently examining whether the tests must be treated as hazardous waste. If so, however, this could pose new challenges for the authorities, according to reports from "SPIEGEL Online", since the disposal system for hazardous household waste is still under construction in France. The way in which waste such as paints, solvents, paints or possibly also the alcohol tests should be disposed of has not yet been clearly regulated in our French neighbors. (fp)

Image: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de

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