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Saturday, March 1, 2008

(Alcohol) Hand Sanitizer Stinks

Courtesy of Feb 18 editorial by Rochester NY's Channel 13 WHAM TV news reporter Jen Markham :

"..Am I the only one out there that hates hand sanitizer? ... Oh,really? Just me? … Well, … erm… never mind …

This comes to mind because today I was in the microbiology lab at Rochester General Hospital. They’re a jovial and very clean bunch but: they do work with and around some pretty skeevy microbes. So on my way out, even though I absolutely loathe the stuff and fastidiously avoid it in favor of soap, I helped myself of a squirt of hand sanitizer on my way out.

It was a choice I instantly regretted. Although I kept amiably chatting with my favorite RGH staffer about the seriousness of deadly infectious diseases, all I could think was, A.) “Bleeeggghhh! This slime on my hands is revolting!” and B.) “How far to the nearest sink?”

"...So taking advantage of germ emergence and American paranoia towards said germs, our nation’s pharmaceutical companies (always on the side of the American consumer) came up with the truly horrifying idea to gelatinize pure alcohol. As if that weren’t bad enough, they made sure the glop left a sticky residue (awesome), added the refreshing scent of Freshly Mopped Hospital Floor, and poured it into tiny adorable bottles emblazoned with fear-inducing claims.."

"...up. But it didn’t escape my notice a few years that whatever genius brainwas- … er, marketing tactics these companies came up with, they were startlingly successful. Suddenly, everyone I knew was toting around a bottle of the gelatinous hooch. It was in people’s cars, purses; people left hand-pumps in communal work areas, and they even conned hospitals into putting the dispensers in every dang room of the place. As if hospitals didn’t smell bad enough before, suddenly the overpowering stench of antiseptic drain cleaner was wafting from the frickin’ walls.

This is my problem with hand sanitizer. It smells absolutely wretched. Am I the only one that doesn’t find the smell of Disinfecting Flammable Chemicals neither comforting, nor appealing? The sales numbers suggest I might be. Apparently, people all across this great nation are enthusiastically rubbing pure alcohol on their hands, a satisfying smile spreading across their faces as the toxic fumes sting their nose and water their eyes. “Whoo!” they think, as the tears stream down their face and their parched hands crackle audibly, “the overpowering aroma of pure isopropanol is way better than that silly old soap and water!”

Jen--if you're going to use a hand sanitizer, here's a news updated: there actually ARE alcohol free, fragrance free foaming hand sanitizers that are as, if not more effective than legacy products, and many retailers, including Target, are now offering them. Target is promoting a brand called Soapopular (CVS is purportedly migrating completely to alcohol free hand sanitizers and rumour is that they won't be carrying Purell after the end of the year...rumour only!)

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