WHAT’S THE BUZZ WITH HAND SANITIZER?
If you’re the type to slather on hand sanitizer every five minutes, you might want to think twice before your next pump of the stuff. We’ve all heard the stories about mouthwash or toothpaste causing positive reads on alcohol tests. But hand sanitizer? According to a recent study, frequent use of alcohol-containing hand sanitizer may lead you to test positive in a urine test for alcohol consumption. In the study, 11 volunteers who had not consumed alcohol in five days prolifically applied Purell to their hands – 62 percent of Purell consists of ethyl alcohol. By the end of the day, the urine of eight of the subjects contained levels of an alcohol-breakdown product that would indicate they had recently consumed alcohol. For the study, participants applied one squirt of sanitizer to their hands every five minutes for 1O hours a day for three days. It’s true that you’d have to go through large quantities before you needed to worry about a positive test result but some people use copious amounts. The researchers said this might be a problem for health care professionals (or the average germaphobe) who frequently apply hand sanitizer. Some people with a history of drug or alcohol problems are required by their employer to abstain from alcohol and undergo frequent drug tests. “We would encourage these individuals to be aware of the myriad sources of alcohol they can come across in daily life,” said study researcher Gary Reisfield, an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry at the University of Florida College of Medicine. A breathalyzer alcohol test measures the amount of alcohol in your breath. But alcohol in the breath will dissipate after a few hours. Urine tests screen for breakdown products of alcohol that are more enduring, Reisfield said. The study was published in the March issue of the journal of analytical toxicology.