Most children get in trouble for “not” washing their hands. My children refuse to use traditional based sanitizer. They know it’s toxic, and they also know mommy will be upset if it touches their skin. If you were to ask them why, they would explain that it may harm their development. I know what you may be thinking about now. Probably the same thing I thought a few years ago when I first started looking into the safety of traditional sanitizers.
Here are the facts. Decide for yourself if it’s worth the risk to your family.
Kids of all ages ingesting alcohol-based sanitizer has become a dangerous risk for children everywhere. About 2,600 cases have been reported in California since 2010, but it’s become a national problem (Martinez, 2012).
“It’s not just localized to us.” Helen Arbogast, an injury prevention coordinator in the trauma program at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, told ABC News today, “Since 2009 we can see on YouTube it’s in all regions of the county. We see it in the South, in the Midwest, in the East” (Martinez, 2012).
The Colorado department of Public Health and Environment states that the “incidental and intentional ingestion of hand sanitizer can be extremely dangerous, particularly for children. Furthermore, children under three years of age can absorb enough alcohol through their skin to cause harmful health effects due to their small size” (Colorado department of Public Health and Environment, n.d.).
In fact, new studies show the dangerous health effects to anyone, especially children who use alcohol-based sanitizer on a regular basis. The skin is the body’s largest organ and whatever is applied to it is absorbed within 26 seconds according to EWG. The skin absorbs up to 60% percent of what is applied (Environmental Working Group).
Even under supervision, children using alcohol based sanitizer still face dangerous health effects. According to Dr. Cyrus Rangan, medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, “A few swallows is all it takes to get a person to get the intoxicated effects of alcohol” (Martinez, (2012).
Fox News has reported many stories of young children drinking hand sanitizer, including the story of a 5 year-old who was hospitalized, near death, for drinking an entire bottle of hand sanitizer at school (Gardner, 2013).
Children are often given alcohol-based sanitizer at school before snacks and meals. The residual of what is left on their hands could be ingested with their food. Children also have a tendency to put their hands in their mouths and eyes. All of these conditions make alcohol based sanitizer a dangerous alternative for cleaning hands.
Doctors such as Rangan, say ingesting hand sanitizer could produce the same side effects as consuming large amounts of alcohol – slurred speech, unresponsiveness, possibly falling into a coma state and could lead to brain, liver and kidney damage (Martinez, 2012).
Many schools are banning alcohol-based sanitizers as well as other chemical-based products such antibacterial wipes routinely used in classrooms to sanitize surfaces.
Tampa’s Poison Control Centers, Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger says they are seeing younger and younger children involved ingesting alcohol-based sanitizers. “Cases were reported this year of this kind of abuse included a 6 and 7 year-old. The story was that they intentionally added it to a drink at their school”(Martinez, 2012).
In 2009 the U.S. Naval Submarine Command officially prohibited alcohol-based sanitizers on their submarines (Nameth, 2010).
A study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Virginia looked at 1,000 volunteers. Half of these volunteers used alcohol-based sanitizer every three hours while the other half used no method of cleaning their hands during the study. They concluded that alcohol-based sanitizer does not significantly reduce illnesses caused by rhinovirus infections and flu. (Jump, 2010).
The CDC reports that hand sanitizers do not kill and protect against dirt, bodily fluids, feces, and super bugs (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
The University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources says research shows that alcohol-based hand sanitizers do not significantly reduce the overall amount of bacteria on the hands and in some cases may even increase it (University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, n.d.).
A study done by the University of California discovered that a dangerous chemical called Triclosan (which is present in many alcohol-based sanitizers) could have serious health implications. (University of California, n.d.).
Triclosan is registered by the EPA as a pesticide and is given high scores as a risk to both human health and the environment. It poses risk as a hormone disruptor, and risk of long-term chronic health interfering with the way hormones perform (Toxic Free Foundation).
Triclosan can also store itself in the body’s fat and can reach toxic levels, damaging the liver, kidney and lungs and can cause paralysis, sterility, suppression of the immune function, brain hemorrhages, decreased fertility and sexual function, heart problems and coma (Toxic-Free Foundation).
Boston-based microbiologist Laura McMurray and colleagues at the Tufts University School of Medicine, say that triclosan is capable of forcing the emergence of “superbugs” that it isn’t capable of killing (Fox, n.d).
What does this mean for parents such as myself that have decided the health risks involved with alcohol-based sanitizer outweigh any potential that they have at protecting my children from illness? If you’ve made the decision to ban alcohol-based sanitizer from your home, you don’t have to choose between germs and chemicals. The Sanitizer Home and Hand offers a solution without toxic chemicals.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from
Chemical Widely used in antibacterial hand soaps may impair muscle function. (2012). Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from University of California, Davis. http://news.ucdavis.edu/search/news_detail.lasso?id=10301
Environmental Working Group. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/site/about.php
University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://ucanr.edu/sites/letseathealthy/newsletters/Preschool_Nutrition_News49679.pdf
Fox, M. (n.d.). Common Disinfectant Could Breed Superbugs. Health and Science Correspondent. Retrieved March 17, 2014 from http://www.health-report.co.uk/probiotics-triclosan-dangers.htm).
Gardner, J. (2013). Five-year-old girl close to death after drinking hand sanitizer at school. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from www.dailymail.co.ul/news/article-2260950/Five-year-old-girl-gets-drunk-hand-sanitizer.html
GUIDELINES FOR THE USE OF HAND SANITIZER IN SCHOOL AND CHILD CARE SETTINGS (n.d.). Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheadername1=Content-Disposition&blobheadername2=Content-Type&blobheadervalue1=inline%3B+filename%3D%22Guidelines+for+the+Use+of+Hand+Sanitizer+in+School+and+Child+Care+Settings.pdf%22&blobheadervalue2=application%2Fpdf&blobkey=id&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobwhere=1251807391011&ssbinary=true
Jump, P. (2010). U.Va. Health System Study Finds Hand Disinfectants Do Little To Prevent Spread. University of Virginia. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from
Martinez, C. (2012). Trend of Young People drinking hand sanitizer to get drunk hits Florida. ABC Action News Tampa Bay. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from
Nameth, A. (2010). Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers Gain Market Share. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2010/06/non-alcohol-hand-sanitizer/#.UydSpRZTsWY
Triclosan to be banned in Canada. (2012). Toxic-free foundation. Retrieved on March 17, 2014 from http://toxicfreefoundation.org/?p=393