Teen alcohol poisoning from hand sanitizer

April 24, 2012 at 9:42 PM
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LOS ANGELES, April 24 (UPI) -- Distilling alcohol from hand sanitizer with salt and drinking the substance straight-up landed six teens in Los Angeles County emergency rooms, officials say.

Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator-trauma program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said cases of individuals suffering from alcohol poisoning by consuming hand sanitizer straight from the bottle have been publicized in recent years.

The technique of separating the sanitizer from the alcohol using salt is relatively new, Arbogast said.

"The liquid sanitizer, which contains 62 percent ethanol, makes it a powerful 120 proof liquid. Highly concentrated alcohol can be distilled from even a small 2-ounce bottle of the sanitizer, through a process kids can find in cyberspace," Dr. Cyrus Rangan, a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a statement. "It's like drinking shots of hard liquor."

Parents should monitor hand sanitizer as they would hard liquor or any medication -- keeping it out of sight and out of reach when not in use, Rangan said.

"Teens may ingest hand sanitizer recreationally, and one or two swallows could get a child visibly drunk. The larger the bottle, the greater the potential for poisoning," Rangan said. "Methods to distill it can be found through friends and the Internet, but straight ingestion of the product without distillation is also common."

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