An alarming report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that a number of young people across the United States are drinking hand sanitizer fluid on purpose. In a three-year span, a little more than 70,000 children under the age of 12 were exposed to sanitizer poisoning, with the largest number of that reported group under the age of 5.
On the positive side, very few of the children reported by the nation’s 55 poison treatment centers were seriously injured from ingesting the alcohol-based sanitizers. The report took data from 2011 to 2014, releasing its findings last week.
From the CDC’s “Reported Adverse Health Effects in Children from Ingestion of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers”:
Hand sanitizers are effective and inexpensive products that can reduce microorganisms on the skin, but ingestion or improper use can be associated with health risks. Many hand sanitizers contain up to 60%–95% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol by volume, and are often combined with scents that might be appealing to young children. Recent reports have identified serious consequences, including apnea, acidosis, and coma in young children who swallowed alcohol-based (alcohol) hand sanitizer.
No deaths have been reported as a result of the ingestion, with vomiting and stomach pain remaining the most common effects among kids who drank the fluid. Older children, researchers suggest, may have been aware of what the sanitizers were and downed the fluid in order to achieve a cheap buzz.
Although there isn’t a spike in these types of poisonings that should raise alarm in most households, researchers say that parents hoping to avoid such incidents should switch to bar soap instead of the often sweet-smelling sanitizers.