National center for infection control professionals, healthcare experts, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers and consumers focused on best practices in hand hygiene and hand sanitizer products

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NBC News Chicago: Serving Hand Sanitizer on The Rocks, to Students? Gel, On the Rocks

Parents and officials concerned about high alcohol content of hand sanitizer

You don't have to be a parent to know that little kids' hands get into everything and are often covered with dirt and germs. But some officials are saying that using hand sanitizers could be more harmful than helpful.
But in order to effective, schools that decide to use alcohol-based sanitizers (vs. readily-available non-alcohol alternatives), the alcohol products must have an alcohol content of at least 60 percent. That's more than some cocktails!
According to the Trib, some officials are worried about the alcohol's flammability and potential misuse as an intoxicant:
In Kane County, students can't use hand sanitizers in school except under adult supervision. The county regional office of education requires school districts to have a formal plan for how they'll dispense the germ-fighting product in classrooms and lunchrooms, and they must store larger pump containers and extra bottles in fireproof cabinets or outdoor sheds like other flammable products.
In DuPage County, the schools chief plans to discuss hand-sanitizing gels with the county's 42 district superintendents next week.
Adult supervision? Formal discussions? This reeks of overprotecting ... or does it? From glue to markers to aerosol cans, kids have been known to use all kinds of creative ways to get high.
And from the New England Journal of Medicine: "The Maryland Poison Center was called about a 49-year-old ... prison inmate who was ... drinking from a gallon container of Purell hand sanitizer over the course of the evening. It was discovered that this sanitizer contains 62% ethanol by weight (more than 70% alcohol by volume). The inmate's blood alcohol level was found to be 335 mg per deciliter."
Holy cow! Sounds like that hand gel should come with a little paper umbrella.
And a fire extinguisher.
"It doesn't matter if you have an ounce of this or a one-gallon bottle, alcohol is a flammable liquid," Cathy Stashak, a fire protection specialist with the Office of the State Fire Marshal, told the Tribune. "If there's an ignition source, it could catch on fire."

Still, officials remind parents and teachers that nothing beats good old-fashioned hand-washing.
And keeping your fingers out of your nose, of course.


NY Times Report: Soap and Water or Sanitizer, a Cleaning That Can Stave Off the Flu

reprinted from N.Y. Times article September 15, 2009

With Soap and Water or Sanitizer, a Cleaning That Can Stave Off the Flu

It sounds so simple as to be innocuous, a throwaway line in public-health warnings about swine flu. But one of the most powerful weapons against the new H1N1 virus is summed up in a three-word phrase you first heard from your mother: wash your hands.

A host of recent studies have highlighted the importance and the scientific underpinning of this most basic hygiene measure. One of the most graphic was done at the University of California, Berkley, where researchers focused video cameras on 10 college students as they read and typed on their laptops.

The scientists counted the times the students touched their faces, documenting every lip scratch, eye rub and nose pick. On average, the students touched their eyes, noses and lips 47 times during a three-hour period, once every four minutes.

Hand-to-face contact has a surprising impact on health. Germs can enter the body through breaks in the skin or through the membranes of the eyes, mouth and nose.

The eyes appear to be a particularly vulnerable port of entry for viral infections, said Mark Nicas, a professor of environmental health sciences at Berkeley. Using mathematical models, Dr. Nicas and colleagues estimated that in homes, schools and dorms, hand-to-face contact appears to account for about one-third of the risk of  flu infection, according to a report this month in the journal Risk Analysis.

In one study of four residence halls at the University of Colorado, two of the dorms had hand sanitizer dispensers installed in every dorm room, bathroom and dining area, and students were given educational materials about the importance of hand hygiene. The remaining two dorms were used as controls, and researchers simply monitored illness rates.

During the eight-week study period, students in the dorms with ready access to hand sanitizers had a third fewer complaints of coughs, chest congestion and fever. Over all, the risk of getting sick was 20 percent lower in the dorms where hand hygiene was emphasized, and those students missed 43 percent fewer days of school.

Young children benefit, too. In a study of 6,000 elementary school students in California, Delaware, Ohio and Tennessee, students in classrooms with hand sanitizers had 20 percent fewer absences due to illness. Teacher absenteeism in those schools dropped 10 percent.

Better hand hygiene also appears to make a difference in the home, lowering the risk to other family members when one child is sick. Harvard researchers studied nearly 300 families who had children 5 or younger in day care. Half the families were given a supply of hand sanitizer and educational materials; the other half were left to practice their normal hand washing habits.

In homes with hand sanitizers, the risk of catching a gastrointestinal illness from a sick child dropped 60 percent compared with the control families. The two groups did not differ in rates of respiratory illness rates, but families with the highest rates of sanitizer use had a 20 percent lower risk of catching such an illness from a sick child.

Regular soap and water and [appropriate] hand sanitizers are both effective in eliminating the H1N1 virus from the hands. In February, researchers in Australia coated the hands of 20 volunteers with copious amounts of a seasonal H1N1 flu virus. The concentration of virus was equivalent to the amount that would occur when an infected person used a hand to wipe a runny nose.

When the subjects did not wash their hands, large amounts of live virus remained even after an hour, said the lead author, Dr. M. Lindsay Grayson, a professor of medicine at the University of Melbourne. But using soap and water or a sanitizer virtually eliminated the presence of the virus.

Frequent hand washing will not eliminate risk. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, a bystander might be splattered by large droplets or may inhale airborne particles. In a recent Harvard study of hand sanitizer use in schools, hand hygiene practices lowered risk for gastrointestinal illness but not upper respiratory infections.

Still, it is a good idea to wash your hands regularly even if you’re not in contact people who are obviously ill. In a troubling finding, a recent study of 404 British commuters found that 28 percent had fecal bacteria on their hands. In one city, 57 percent of the men sampled had contaminated hands, according to the study, which was published this month in the journal Epidemiology and Infection.

For all those reasons, the Centers for Disease Control with other health organizations around the world, urge frequent hand washing with soap and water or appropriate hand sanitizers. (They also repeat some advice you may not have heard from your mother: cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your bare hands.)

And as hospitals put stricter hand hygiene programs in place, absentee rates during cold and flu season also drop.

This blog invites readers to visit the following:

Texas School District To Implement Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer System Wide: 8000 Students

COPPERAS COVE – The Copperas Cove school board voted Tuesday to dip into reserves to fund a $30,000 district-wide hand sanitizer program and approved a road map that will direct district technology plans for the next three years.

The hand sanitizer program proposed by Copperas Cove Independent School District Superintendent Rose Cameron to help stave off germs and the flu will place dispensers of a non-alcohol based foam sanitizer in high-traffic areas of all CCISD schools, such as cafeterias and computer labs.

Though the district would get the dispensers for free, Cameron has estimated the cost of the foam itself at about $150 a day as more than 8,200 students use it daily.

The board had to vote on the issue at the regular meeting Monday night because the $30,000 annual cost was not included in the budget already approved. The vote was unanimous.

"It's a fairly small amount when you look at our budget, and I think it's an important thing," Cameron said. "We don't do it just to do it, and this is something that came up after the budget process."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Industrial Safety * Hygiene News: Pandemic Report: Endorses Benzalkonium Chloride for Hand Sanitizing

Pandemic Protection
by Matthew Marc Henry
September 9, 2009

This article presents information about pandemic diseases (and more specifically H1N1) spreading throughout your place of business. Here are 15 simple points gathered from the nation’s leading sources on pandemic preparedness:

1 — Cover your cough – If you have to cough, show some manners, and consideration for the health of others… You may already be ill and not know it. Think about others, too. Are your co-workers coughing? Have them cover their mouths. If you want to be really safe, prepare your workplace with masks. Many do not understand the difference in masks, but it is really quite simple: N95 and other “rated” and form fitting masks are to protect the well from inhaling airborne pathogens. Procedural masks (like what a surgeon wears) are for the ill, to help them cover their mouths and noses to avoid expelling pathogens towards the Well. You can find both at any quality first aid supplier. (Avoid new “miracle masks” claiming unheard of protection and germ-killing properties… If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.)

2 — Wash your hands frequently – Cooties! Think about all the things you touch every day. Think about how many others touch them and breathe on them. Are they ill? Now… think about how often you touch your face. Try counting for 5-10 minutes… you would be surprised. Wash your hands. Hot soap and water are great. Hand sanitizers are handy when hot water is not available. Other great options are benzalkonium chloride (BZK) wipes — those nice clean towellettes — that are so handy to have around. Benzalkonium chloride solutions are rapidly acting biocidal agents with a moderately long duration of action. They are active against bacteria and some viruses, fungi, and protozoa.4 You can pick these up from your favorite first aid product company for about 3¢ each… usually in boxes of 100. Pass them around to co-workers, stash them in your pocket, wallet, purse, glove box, lunch box, briefcase, wherever.  

Matthew Marc Henry
Matthew is a managing safety consultant for Express Companies, Inc. (dba com/ He is a former EMT and has served on several Cal/OSHA Advisory Committees and the Associated General Contractors Safety Committee.  

Wisconsin Schools: Only Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers Permitted

Published September 09 2009

Fight flu with basic prevention

From Catlin Avenue to Sesame Street, everyone is gearing up for flu season. In addition to the seasonal flu bug, health care workers are on the lookout for H1N1 swine flu that spread worldwide this spring.
Prevention is the key, according to Nancy Smith, health service director for the Superior School District. She offered basic prevention tips.
Wash your hands and remind your child to wash theirs often. Cough or sneeze into a tissue, throw it away and wash your hands. Use your sleeve if you do not have a tissue. Stay home if you feel you are ill.
The Department of Homeland Security has teamed up with Elmo from Sesame Street to send out the message through public service announcements. See them online at The Centers for Disease Control offers these additional tips like avoiding close contact with people who are sick, keeping your distance if you are sick and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
District custodial staff do an excellent job of keeping Superior schools clean, Smith said. More alcohol-free hand sanitizer dispensers have been added at all schools, as well.
When the H1N1 flu began spreading in the spring, district personnel worked hard to get information out to families and staff about the disease and how to prevent it..."

Albany NY School System: Only Permitting Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizer

By JENNIFER GISH, Staff writer
Last updated: 8:59 p.m., Wednesday, September 9, 2009

"One of the things I've added to my chat with students are some really common-sense recommendations for stopping the flu," says Luke Rakoczy, principal of Van Antwerp Middle School in the Niskayuna Central School District. "We've just been putting in place really common-sense recommendations to kids, and one is the spread of virus through your hands, and the importance of washing your hands."
Rakoczy notes that hand sanitizer stations throughout the building were put in place a couple of years ago in response to concerns about the spread of the MRSA infection in area schools.

South Colonie doesn't allow students to bring in their own sanitizer because all chemical-based products used in the district are to be tracked on a "Material Safety Data Sheet." That way, if a student or staff member develops an allergic reaction, the district has a list of what substances are used in its facilities.

Instead, the district supplies one type of sanitizer -- an alcohol-free, fragrance-free product -- to its staff and students, Noetzel says."

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

York County PA: Police investigate alcohol hand sanitizer

Report: Someone spiked Clover teacher's tea with hand sanitizer

By Shannon Greene - The Herald
CLOVER -- She wanted to quench her thirst with a refreshing sip of tea, but a Clover Middle School teacher got a foul taste of something else instead.
The teacher had stepped away from her desk for a few moments around 3:30 p.m. Sept. 2. After returning, she drank her tea and noticed it had a "peculiar taste," according to a York County Sheriff's Office report.
When the teacher looked down into her styrofoam cup, she noticed a foreign substance floating in her drink. She realized it was the hand sanitizer she keeps on her desk, the report stated.
At the time of the incident, five students were in her classroom waiting on a school bus, the report stated. The students told the assistant principal and school resource officer they didn't see anyone put anything in the teacher's drink.
The incident was reported to the sheriff's office Tuesday and police are investigating it as an assault.
A warning on Purell hand sanitizer says it should be kept out of reach of children. It contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, and if swallowed could be poisonous.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New York State School District Recommends Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers

By Susan Campriello
Hudson-Catskill Newspapers
Published: Tuesday, September 8, 2009 2:19 AM EDT
CATSKILL — As schools reopen, area educators and administrators are readying their buildings for learning, playing and perhaps spreading germs like those that could spread the H1N1 flu virus.

School administrations in Greene County are encouraging students and teachers to use common sense hygienic practices and are stepping up cleaning regimens to keep their buildings and grounds clean.

Hand sanitizing products will be available to students in every district, and staff will meet with health care professionals to learn the best way to keep classroom areas clean and students healthy.

School administrators said they will also follow guidelines set forth by the State Education Department and State Department of Health and keep in touch with the County Department of Health.

Hunter-Tannersville Central School District Superintendent Patrick Darfler-Sweeney said students will be provided with alcohol-free hand sanitizing products and parents will be encouraged to give their children alcohol-free products if they feel the need to give their children anything.

Monday, September 7, 2009

University of Michigan Places Restrictions on Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Due to Flammability

University of Michigan Places Restrictions on Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizer Due to Flammability
September 1st, 2009

If other colleges and universities across the country choose to follow the University of Michigan’s lead, a recent decision by officials at the Ann Arbor school could put a huge dent in the bottom lines of several companies in the $100-million hand sanitizer industry. It could also make centers of higher education across the country more safe.

Michigan Hand Sanitizer Memo 8-20-09

Based largely on a state fire marshal’s bulletin limiting where alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers can be placed because of concerns about the product’s flammability, University of Michigan officials recently placed restrictions on the use and placement of those dispensers on campus.

According to Richard Fitzgerald, a spokesperson for the 40,000-students-strong university, an Aug. 20 memo went out to various departments across the school’s 3,000-plus-acre campuses outlining the new restrictions. Among the factors influencing the decision to limit the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer products on campus were the following:

* Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are classified as a Class I Flammable Liquid. Therefore we cannot recommend their use in non-healthcare facilities;

* When considering the use of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR), facility representatives shall consider the potential misuse of the product, the potential hazard due to the facility occupancy, past history of fires and other circumstances;

* Dispensers containing this product should not be located in a required corridor or exit, or any area open to a required corridor or exit;

* This product must be isolated from high temperatures and possible ignition sources such as, but not limited to, open-flame, electrical equipment, switches or receptacles; and

* The storage of quantities (10 gallons or more), and dispensing of this product shall comply with the requirements the Michigan Flammable and Combustible Liquids Rules.

In the same memo, university officials recommended that procurement officials within the various offices on campus purchase hand sanitizer dispensers containing benzalkonium chloride (BZK).

Amidst fears of an outbreak of the H1N1 virus (a.k.a., “Swine Flu”) this fall and a deluge of news stories and CDC recommendations on the subject, one can only wonder how long it will be before other schools follow Michigan’s lead.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Waco Schools:Alcohol Hand Sanitizers Get Kids Drunk; District Chooses "Soapopular" Alcohol-free Hand Sanitizer

We couldn't make these stories up..
This from News Channel 25 in Waco, Texas

WEST- A product being used in schools to protect your children from germs is getting some students into trouble. Teens are actually drinking hand sanitizer, which is about 65 percent ethyl alcohol, to get drunk.

Although students are not ingesting hand sanitizer at West I.S.D., the district is being proactive, hoping to prevent what's going on nationwide. The district is replacing the alcohol-based hand sanitizers in bathrooms and classrooms with a non-alcohol based sanitizer.

Many hand sanitizers are mostly ethyl alcohol, which is the same as in alcoholic beverages. But they can also contain isopropyl alcohol which can be dangerous if ingested.

"There's also ingredients in these which can be a ingredient in antifreeze and can be very toxic," said Dr. Hinds, who has a strong warning for teens even thinking about tasting hand sanitizer.

"It's very dangerous. Don't do it. It should never be ingested for any reason whatsoever," said Dr. Hinds.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Nova Scotia, Canada school system Bans Alcohol Hand Sanitizers

Fire fears in N.S. spark sanitizer ban
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 | 6:27 PM AT
CBC News

There won't be hand sanitizer at dozens of Nova Scotia schools this fall because of fears it could be used to start fires.

The Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has decided not to use hand sanitizers to combat the swine flu virus.

Stephanie Campbell, principal of Brookside Elementary School in Sydney, said the decision was made after a meeting last week with officials from the Department of Health.

Some hand cleaners or sanitizers have a high alcohol content, she said.

"That in and of itself is a concern, as far as it being a flammable substance. So therefore we wouldn't want to have hand sanitizers around our schools in case that somebody decided to take a notion to start a fire using the hand sanitizer."

Paul Oldford, co-ordinator of facilities management for the board, said parents are also discouraged from sending their children to school with personal-sized bottles of hand sanitizer.

"We know of cases where children have consumed it and their blood-alcohol level has risen," he added.