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According to a letter published in the Sydney Journal of Medicine, an 45-year-old Australian man in treatment for alcoholism was found to be dangerously drunk after ingesting six 375 milliliter bottles of hand sanitizer from his hospital bathroom. (That’s as much liquid as three wine bottles!) His blood alcohol level was 0.271 percent, half way to the often-lethal 0.5 percent. The primary ingredient in most hand sanitizers is isopropyl alcohol, which is not generally considered safe for human consumption. It can still get you drunk—but not without making you sick. And the non-alcoholic additives of hand sanitizers (like fragrances) can be even more dangerous.
Doctors called this case the worst any of them had seen, but it’s hardly the first time someone has tried to get drunk off hand sanitizer. Doctors have been reporting alarming incidents for years, often in hospitals. And YouTube is full of videos of teens daring each other to take shots of Germ-X. These cases have led physicians to call for safer hand sanitizer dispenser designs—especially the installation of non-removable canisters in public restrooms, which would make it harder for alcohol-starved to gulp it straight from the bottle.
I don’t understand why there even needs to be hand sanitizer in inpatient treatment centers. There is soap and water that would work just fine, in my opinion. Instead of spending money to re-structure the dispensers, they should just not have hand sanitizer as an option.