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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Alcohol Poisoning Linked to Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer

  • Jim Liebelt
    Jim is Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim has over 25 years of experience as a youth and family ministry specialist, and has been on the HomeWord staff since 1998. He has served over the years as a pastor, author, youth ministry trainer, adjunct college instructor and speaker. Jim’s culture blog and parenting articles appear on HomeWord.com. Jim is a contributing author of culture and parenting articles to Crosswalk.com. Jim and his wife Jenny live in Olympia, WA.
  • 2012 Apr 24
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It's far too early to call this more than a localized occurence, but it's worthwhile for parents to become aware of the potential for kids abusing alcohol through drinking hand sanitizer.

Six teenagers have shown up in two San Fernando Valley emergency rooms in the last few months with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer, worrying public health officials who say the cases could signal a dangerous trend.

Some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink that is similar to a shot of hard liquor.

"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "There is no question that it is dangerous."

Although there have been only a handful of cases, Rangan said the practice could easily become a larger problem. Bottles of hand sanitizer are inexpensive and accessible, and teenagers can find distillation instructions on the Internet.

"It is kind of scary that they go to that extent to get a shot of essentially hard liquor," Rangan said.

The liquid hand sanitizer is 62% ethyl alcohol and makes a 120-proof liquid. A few drinks can cause a person's speech to slur and stomach to burn, and make people so drunk that they have to be monitored in the emergency room.

Source: Los Angeles Times
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-hand-sanitizer-20120424,0,4801404.story