Six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer. According to LATimes.com, public health officials are worried these cases could be a signal to a dangerous trend. Some of the teenagers reported using salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink similar to a shot of hard liquor.
"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," said Cyrus Rangan, who is the director of toxicology for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. He said, "There is no question that it is dangerous." Although there have only been a few cases, Rangan believes this could become a bigger issue. Hand sanitizer is easy for teenagers to get, and the distillation instructions can be found on the Internet.
The liquid hand sanitizer is 62% ethyl alcohol and makes 120-proof liquid. A few drinks of such a potent alcohol can cause a person's speech to slur and stomach to burn, making people so drunk they have to be monitored in the emergency room. Doctors fear this is the latest over-the-counter product that teenagers have adapted to get high.
If parents buy hand sanitizer, doctors advise them to purchase the foam version rather than the gel type. It is harder to extract the alcohol from the foam, and kids are less likely to drink it. Parents also should not leave hand sanitizer around the house, and doctors recommend theta they monitor this product like any other liquor or medicine. Furthermore, doctors urge parents to look for signs of intoxication if you suspect your child is consuming it.