UnNews:Hand sanitizer a good way to beat drunk breath test
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1 February 2007
BALTIMORE - Prison officials, poison control centers and fraternities can add a new substance to their list of intoxicants — hand sanitizer. A usually calm 49-year-old prisoner prompted a call to the Maryland Poison Control Center after guards found him red-eyed, combative and "being a total asshole." Other inmates and staff reported the unidentified prisoner had been drinking from a gallon container of hand sanitizer, which is more than 70 percent alcohol, or over 140 proof, the center's director wrote in an article appearing in the February issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
That call was one of about a half dozen the Maryland Poison Control Center has received involving hand sanitizers, said Dr. Suzanne Doyon, the poison center's director and co-author of the article. Doyon wrote the article along with Dr. Christopher Welsh, assistant professor in the University of Maryland School of Medicine, to raise awareness of the potential for having a good time with hand sanitizers.
An underground subculture of "smoothies" has already sprung up around the use of hand sanitizers, and tips on getting totally wasted with the substance are shared via Internet chat boards.
While the hand sanitizer contains other chemicals in smaller amounts, it is primarily the same type of alcohol found in liquor, and acts on the body in the same way, said Doyon. Drinking the sanitizer is not even necessary, as the intoxicant readily travels into the bloodstream as it is absorbed through the skin and into small capillaries in the hands and forearms.
"I don't think a lot of people realize these are ethanol containing, or alcohol containing. They are really no different than a really concentrated liquor," Doyon said. "The best thing is that it barely shows up in a breathalizer test, so you can 'rub and drive' all you want."
The National Licensened Beverage Association lobbyist group is currently working with lawmakers to increase restrictions on the hand sanitizers, fearing the loss of customers, particularly those under legal drinking age.