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Hand Sanitizer: Health Officials Warn of Growing Teen Poisonings, Drinking

A small but growing number of cases of teenagers trying to get drunk with hand sanitizer has health officials worried in California.


The devil will find work for idle hands: drinking hand sanitizer these days, it seems.

According to The Los Angeles Times, health officials in California have since 2010 tracked reports teenagers drinking the substance and are now sounding the alarm.

The newspaper says the California Poison Control System reports 60 instances of teenagers drinking the substance, which has an ethyl alcohol content of 62 percent, and in Los Angeles alone there were 16 such cases last month.

Out of a total of over 2,000 cases of various ages since 2010, most were treated at home and the vast majority involved infants under 5 who were thought to have accidentally ingested the substance, The Times said.

Dr. Calvin Lowe was quoted as telling NBC Los Angeles that the practice was “very, very dangerous.”

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Citing the American Association of Poison Control Centers, NBC provided the following list of the substances most frequently poisoning teenagers in 2010. The numbers are ranked by calls to a poison control center:

Ibuprofen -- 10,030 calls

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor antidepressants -- 8,419 calls

Acetaminophen -- 7,995 calls

Atypical Antipsychotics -- 7,319 calls

Benzodiazepines -- 7,192

Alcohol -- 5,061 calls

According to ABC News, instructions freely available on the Internet show how to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer by using salt.