Surge In Alcohol Poisoning Cases Tied To Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — Health officials on Tuesday reported the rise of a troubling new trend in Southland emergency rooms: teenagers being treated for alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.

KNX 1070’s John Brooks reports teens are using a “relatively new” method of gleaning alcohol from the popular over-the-counter product.

At least six Southland teens have been treated for drinking hand sanitizer — which is 62 percent ethyl alcohol — after zero cases were reported last year.

Dr. Cyrus Rangan, chief of toxicology for the Los Angeles County Health Department, said kids have figured out how to distill the alcohol and turn it into a 120-proof drink.

“Very often, they will get drunk at home or at a party or something like that, and they won’t necessarily be coming to the emergency department, but because of the potency of these products, some of these children will get very highly intoxicated and require a visit to the emergency department,” said Rangan.

While there have been cases in recent years of people suffering alcohol poisoning after drinking straight hand sanitizer, Rangan said the method of using salt to separate alcohol from the sanitizer is “like drinking shots of hard liquor”.

Deaths have been reported in other states from mixing mouthwash and hand sanitizer together.

Rangan advises parents to keep hand sanitizer safely stored when not in use and to consider buying foam sanitizers or other products that don’t list ethanol as a primary ingredient.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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