LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — A new study released on Monday shows people who use excessive amounts of hand sanitizer may absorb small amounts of alcohol into the body, which can result in testing positive for alcohol consumption.
Doctor Gary Ricefield, a co-author of the University of Florida study, told KNX 1070 that the excuse was previously met with skepticism before the study.
“If [the findings are] not unique to doctors and nurses, it’s certainly characteristic of professionals who have frequent contact with patients, and therefore need to sanitize their hands many, many times during the course of the day,” Ricefield said.
The subjects were instructed to abstain from alcohol before the study, and for ten straight hours on each of these days cleansed their hands with Purell sanitizer every five minutes — a total of 120 “touches” for three straight days.
Using the alcohol-based sanitizers a few times a day is probably not enough to show up on a urine test. But for people whose jobs require repeated hand sanitizer use — such as doctors and nurses — the amount of alcohol absorbed through the skin could lead to a false positive.
Study co-author Dr. Gary Reisfield says he was inspired to do the study after coming into contact with people at Shands Recovery Center who tested positive but denied having consumed alcohol.
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He says people need to be aware of other hidden sources of alcohol, too, such as mouthwashes and cosmetics.