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