A Connecticut woman was recently arrested for DUI after officers witnessed her lose control of her car. When officers went to check on the woman, they reported smelling alcohol on her. The woman denied drinking alcohol and agreed to take field sobriety tests. She failed the test and was arrested. The woman later admitted drinking half a bottle of hand sanitizer. Breathalyzer tests later revealed that the woman had a blood alcohol content of 0.17 percent.
According to Dr. Cyrus Rangan, a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the use of hand sanitizers, like Purell, are being used to get intoxicated, especially amongst teenagers. “A few swallows is all it takes to get a person to get the intoxicated effects of alcohol,” said Rangan. He continued, “Methods to distill it can be found through friends and the Internet, but straight ingestion of the product without distillation is also common.”
The alcohol content of common hand sanitizers ranges from 62-65 percent ethyl alcohol. To compare, your average hard alcohol like rum, whiskey, or vodka is 80 proof, making it 40 percent ethyl alcohol. At a few dollars per bottle of hand sanitizer, a few squirts become a cheap and more potent alternative to your martini.
What makes this particularly dangerous, in addition to the physical bodily harm linked to drinking hand sanitizer, is that bottles of sanitizers are readily available to people under the age of 21, who do not know of the intensified intoxicating effects and its dangers. Underage drinkers of hand sanitizers might think that they are getting a quick light buzz when they’re really getting extremely drunk. They might then think that they’re okay to get behind the wheel and drive.
Keep the Purell on the hands and not in the shot glass.