A mouthwash alternative

| Comments (5) | Pharma
Back in '04, EG covered the use of mouthwash as an intoxicant. The advantage of mouthwash is that it's cheap and available even to minors and when liquor stores are closed. The disadvantage is that it's, well, gross and doesn't have a particularly high alcohol content (15-25% ethanol.) According to this article, the rise of ethanol-based hand sanitizer has provided an alternative:
WASHINGTON -- The 49-year-old Maryland inmate seemed seriously sick after he drank from a gallon container of hand sanitizer. Described as "loony," "red-eyed" and "combative," officials whisked him to a nearby hospital for treatment.

But they quickly discovered he wasn't ill -- just very, very drunk on Purell. The October incident, detailed this past week in the New England Journal of Medicine as one of the first documented cases of its kind, has raised questions about the potential abuse of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

"The widespread use of hand sanitizer is fraught with a great deal of danger," said Suzanne Doyon, medical director of the Maryland Poison Center, who co-authored a letter in the journal about the case. "From an infection control perspective, they are excellent. But there is this risk involved."

Purell, which is 70 percent alcohol, is far more potent than beer (5 percent), wine (10 percent) or hard liquor (40 percent). Doyon said the nonalcohol ingredients in hand sanitizer don't pose a health risk if ingested.

So, the good news is that the alcohol concentration is pretty high so it's a convenient form factor, and it apparently won't kill you much faster than ordinary booze. The bad news is that it tastes bad. As one of my friends put it "here i was expecting minty freshness, and instead it tastes like fermented ass." While writing this article, I had an opportunity to taste sanitizer and I can vouch for this description.


This is terrific. Using hand sanitizer to simply sanitize your hands will evidently produce a positive result for alcohol consumption on the EtG test. If a condition of your employment is that you don't drink, sanitizing can actually cause you to get fired.
(see http://www.careerjournal.com/myc/killers/20060815-helliker.html).

But hey, once you've been fired for aggressive microbe control, at least you can drown your sorrows in the very product that was responsible.

Unfortunately, the alcohol in hand sanitizer can also be (highly toxic) isopropanol and not ethanol.

According to the article, the "medical director of the Maryland Poison Center ... called for limited access to hand sanitizers in rehab clinics, prisons and hospitals." Hospitals? Come on.

I wanna know how you know what fermented ass tastes like?

Strike that... I really don't... :-)

Yeah, we can solve this "problem" by requiring the manufacturers to add more of the poisonous kind of alcohol. Then, we'll keep teenagers and prisoners from getting drunk, and the only cost will be a few thousand small children dying or getting brain or liver damage from getting into the hand sanitizer. I'm shocked that we haven't already had a big publicity campaign to force this to happen. I'm confident we'll see one soon, though, sometime when the news is pretty slow for a week or two. And that the public will support it as a needed way to Protect Our Children By Killing Some Of Them.

Last I checked there existed a solution to this problem.

Add chemicals to make people throw up if they try to drink it.

I was part of the medical staff at a camp sometime back where we actually had to print signs "The hand sanitizer will make you throw up. Don't drink it" And still we got a few mysteriously sick kids each day that admitted after some probing they had drunk of cleaning liquid at the toilets thinking it contained alcohol...

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