Published October 27, 2015
Six teens were taken to emergency rooms in California after guzzling hand sanitizer to get drunk, prompting doctors to issue a warning to parents about a dangerous new trend, KTLA reported.
Dr. Bill Mallon, who works in the emergency room at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center, told KTLA he had seen too many young people come into the hospital with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer.
“It doesn't sound appealing, but you have to remember that kids don't have access to alcohol so they're very creative," Mallon told KTLA.
Liquid hand sanitizer is inexpensive and accessible to teenagers, and there are instructions for distillation online. Sanitizer is 62 percent ethyl alcohol and 120-proof after distillation.
"It's essentially a shot of hard liquor," Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the L.A. County Public Health Department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles, told KTLA. "All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager."
According to doctors, this is only the latest over-the-counter product teenagers have used to get a quick high. In the past, teenagers have been known to use mouthwash, cough syrup and vanilla extract.
Doctors recommended parents monitor their liquid hand sanitizer or buy the foam version instead because it is harder to extract alcohol.