University of Pennsylvania researchers concluded in a study (pdf) seven years ago that a simple education program about hand washing, combined with the use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, resulted in 50.6 percent lower absenteeism among elementary school students and could save a school $167 per student per year.
‘While it comes as no surprise to most people that researchers determined hand washing to be one of the most important factors in controlling the spread of diseases which lead to absenteeism,” Albritton said, “the role hand sanitizers can play in reducing absenteeism and lowering expenses comes as more of a shock.
“While many studies highlight the benefits of hand sanitizer use,” Albritton said, “they don’t point out one of the most-important differences between alcohol-based hand sanitizers like the one used in the study and alcohol-free products.
Another study published in the American Journal of Infection Control revealed that the combination of hand washing and the use of hand sanitizer decreased teacher absenteeism by 10.1 percent in a school with 246 teachers on staff.
- Your average beer contains 4 to 8 percent alcohol by volume;
- Your average hard liquor contains 40 percent alcohol by volume; and
- Your average alcohol-based hand sanitizer contains somewhere between 62 and 95 percent alcohol by volume and, unlike beer and liquor, can be purchased by children of any age.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitizers like the product used in the study pose not only a serious health risk to students who might accidentally or intentionally ingest them because they contain a minimum of 62 percent alcohol,” Albritton explained, adding
“In addition, they pose fire risks so great that some municipal fire codes do not allow wall-mounted dispensers containing alcohol-based hand sanitizer near egress pathways in public buildings.”