Strung out on sanitizer?

How desperate do you have to be for an alcohol fix to eat/drink hand sanitizer?

The Chicago Tribune says some people are raising concerns about the hand sanitizers school districts are providing to combat H1N1 flu.


“H1N1 has certainly created a different way of thinking about what we’re doing in the way of influenza prevention,” said Darlene Ruscitti, DuPage County’s regional superintendent of schools. “But these are things we have to be aware of, and we need to make superintendents aware that people have brought up the issue of the alcohol content in these.”

Hand sanitizer has to be 60-percent alcohol to work, and apparently some school districts have banned it because authorities suspect students would try to get drunk with it.

Has there been a big outbreak of drunken — but sanitary — schoolchildren? No.

The Duluth News Tribune reprinted the story today and some of the reader comments were actually worth reading.


I used to eat rock salt when I was in grade school. The janitor just left it sitting by the door, and I thought it was tasty. I lived to tell. A friend of mine was filling out the paperwork to purchase some cough medication at Wal Mart. She asked them to also shoot the information back to the automotive department because she needed to buy some windshield washer solvent, too. Still makes me laugh.

  • Tyler

    How desperate? I rememeber being at Peavey Plaza one afternoon as a homeless person was being hauled away. He was vomiting as a result of binging on the sanitizer in the portable toilets.

    I would imagine schoolkids are resourceful enough to sneak nips out of dad’s booze cupboard.

  • Bob Moffitt

    I blame ethanol. (grin)

  • Ryan

    Actually, manufacturers of hand sanitizer (and similar non-potable-alcohol products, like sterno) are required by law to add a “denaturing agent” (read: poison) to avoid alcohol taxes.

    It’s not like kids have a current shortage of poisonous things around them to kill themselves with, were they so inclined.

    I’d be more worried that the more bored/adventurous kids would use the hand sanitizer to start fires.

  • BJ

    Oh great Ryan, now I have a real reason to not want it in school!

  • Bob Collins

    I believe I read — somewhere — that the flammability is relatively small.

  • MinnWhaler

    Scope tastes much better than hand sanitizer! I guessing even listerine would be more palatable, or plain old rubbing alcohol! It’s a lot cheaper too!

  • Deeks

    Com on, you know how paranoid parents are, I bet this is just over reaction,,,,,,again.

  • Mike R

    I’m sure they’re all too strung out on cough medicine to bother with getting drunk on hand sanitizer.

  • Cara

    I used to work at a downtown hospital which closed many years ago. I remember the laboratory had a drop off area near the waiting room & info desk for doctor offices to bring in pathology specimens. Occasionally bums from the park across the street would come in and drink the isopropyl alcohol out of the specimen cups. Blech. This was 30-35 years ago.