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

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

ABC News Arizona: Testing Hand Sanitizers:

Do hand sanitizers really work? We put them to the test

Last Update: 10/27 7:09 pm

Reported by: Linda Hurtado,

Everyone is always looking for ways to keep their families healthy.  The CDC says washing your hands is the best way to protect yourself against getting sick. 

But is it? What about those hand sanitizers many people carry around. Do they work better? Or at all?

Many Valley kids are doing it; playing games like basketball and cheering each other on from the sidelines. You better believe that plenty of their hands touched the ball too.

This is often how viruses and other bacteria are spread. So we put hand sanitizers to the test and found out if they’re the same and if soap and water better protect you from getting sick.

In the test, 16 nine and ten-year-olds tried eight products, half name brand hand sanitizers and half generics. Four others tried soap and/or just water. 

Here's one student's theory: "If you wash your hands with water you get a couple off your hands, but if you use soap and water you'll probably get most of the germs off your hands."

The test worked like this: Each child touched their finger tips to a petri dish before treatment. Then a squirt of hand sanitizer and they touched the petri dish again. Most hand sanitizers contain some kind of alcohol compound, either ethyl or isopropyl.

Then the petri dishes were sent to Burt Anderson, a Professor of Molecular Medicine at the University of South Florida. "We put them into an incubator to allow the bacteria to grow."

The results were pretty clear. In the petri dish from one student's test, Burt Anderson says there were 90 to 100 colonies of bacteria before she used an alcohol-free foaming hand sanitizer.

“In this case it was a hand sanitizer using the compound called benzalkonium chloride. You can see a drastic and dramatic reduction to no colonies at all,” Anderson says.


Flu season is upon us
Pat Kimble
Superintendent Adams County/Ohio Valley School District

If you haven't already experienced it or heard about it, the flu season is upon us. Specifically, I am referring to the fact that the H1N1 virus is now present in Adams County. It has been reported to me that we have some "lab confirmed cases" of H1N1 in our school district. I passed this information along to parents on Oct. 9.

Since it really isn't time for our "normal" flu season to get cranked up, all cases of flu at this time are being considered as H1N1 (swine flu) whether or not they have been confirmed as such through lab testing. Lab testing per case/individual costs about $500.

Obviously, due to the costs involved, everyone showing symptoms of flu will not be tested for H1N1. Regardless of the number of reported lab tested cases for H1N1 in Adams County, the actual number of people infected with this virus is probably a lot higher than we think or know.

So, let's review things that we can all do to help control the spread of this virus:

1. Sneeze and/or cough into a handkerchief or tissue, and not into the open air. If you don't have a tissue, then sneeze/cough into your shirt sleeve by placing your elbow up to your face. This cuts down on germs being spread through the air and landing on other objects that could come into contact with your skin and/or body openings.

2. Use the "hands off the face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of the face.

3. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with an antibacterial soap.

4. Use hand sanitizer frequently, preferably one that has a non-alcohol base.

5. Keep some sanitary wipes handy to wipe down desktops, tabletops, railings, doorknobs, phones, computer keyboards, etc.

6. Clean restroom areas frequently and thoroughly.

7. Don't share water bottles, cups, glasses, etc.

8. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water. Simple gargling prevents proliferation.

9. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C, such as citrus fruits.

10. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

FOX NEWS: Swine Flu :Problems With Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

Courtesy of FOX News.

For a conservative media platform such as Fox News; a media company that rarely challenges a product from a "Major Brand  Company," simply because they don't want to offend an advertiser or sponsor, its refreshing to see this newssegment. It provides  a thought provoking report on the dangerous issues regarding the promotion of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Minnesota: Alcohol Hand Sanitizer Poisoning on The rise

Poison Control Inundated with Hand Sanitizer Calls

Poison Control Centers have been inundated with calls about hand sanitizers. Health officials say ingesting it can be potentially harmful to children. They say hand sanitizers contain more alcohol than a bottle of vodka.
Hennepin County Poison Control Center told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS it has been flooded with emergency calls about hand sanitizer. In one case, a 77-year-old with dementia mistakenly drank nearly an entire bottle. However, health officials say children are at the greatest risk.

"Daycare, they got into the bottle or we squirted something on their hands after lunch to to wash their hands and one kid thought it smelled good and licked it," said Kirk Hughes from Minnesota Poison Control, giving an example of some of the calls they have been receiving.

He said in some cases children are mistaking the colorful bottles for juice. He said small amounts are harmless, but a few mouthfuls could leave them legally drunk.
"An intoxicated child is a medical emergency. They can actually go into a low blood sugar coma or diabetic coma," said Hughes.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control updated it's recommendation to include new alcohol-free sanitizers.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Alabama Speaks Out: Warning Re: Alcohol Hand Sanitizers

Supervise kids' use of hand sanitizer

Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By Lee Roop
Times Staff Writer

Don't let them ingest potentially fatal product
Add one more thing to the list for child-proofing a home or place of business today: (alcohol) hand sanitizer.
It's true. The gel cleaners found in jars and wall dispensers everywhere this flu season are dangerous to young children.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

CDC To Schools: "Alcohol-Free Hand Sanitizers Are Useful"

For the better part of 2 1/2 years, this blog has pontificated, pounded tables, and even patronized federal agencies on the features/benefits of non-alcohol hand sanitizers vs. the inherent dangers of legacy, alcohol-based hand sanitizer products.

Whether or not CDC was influenced by certain letters directed to various senior execs at CDC, HHS and DOE, we're happy to report that the CDC has actually updated its position with regard to non-alcohol hand sanitizers.

However much their new verbiage is a CYA for the CDC, the fact is they are acknowledging that alcohol hand sanitizers are being eschewed by school systems throughout the country, and their recent memo at Flu.Gov includes the following statement:

"..for schools that prohibit alcohol-based hand sanitizers, non-alcohol hand sanitizer products are useful..."

It's a small step, but one that has apparently inspired tens of dozens of schools throughout the country that have been waffling on the topic and otherwise deferring to bureaucrats that have held up their hands and said  "But..but...we can't do something different, because we read that the CDC recommends alcohol.. " 

Well..that's simply a mis-interpretation of what the CDC actually says, and their latest update for K-12 schools at provides clarity on their posture with regard to hand sanitizer products that are alcohol-free.

We say: The most pragmatic approach to good hand hygiene is to wash your hands with soap and water. If you can't wash with soap and water, and you are planning on using a hand sanitizer-check the label and check the ingredients.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Connecticut Man jailed for drinking sanitizer

BANTAM — A New Milford man was jailed Friday for reportedly ingesting hand sanitizer last week at a residential facility, in an attempt to get drunk.

Bantam Superior Court Judge Corinne Klatt increased bonds in three cases pending against Paul Hosey, 22, by $500 each. Hosey was scheduled to return to court Oct. 23.

“He admitted to drinking the hand sanitizer for the purposes of becoming intoxicated,” Assistant State’s Attorney Jonathan Knight said.

On Aug. 27, the court ordered Hosey to be held under house arrest at the Alternative Incarceration Center in Waterbury while his cases were pending in court.

AIC staff found a plastic cup with a cloudy liquid on the floor by Hosey’s bed on Oct. 2. Initially Hosey denied drinking the hand sanitizer, telling staff he used it to clean himself. But Hosey’s eyes were bloodshot and he appeared disheveled, according to a report.

Hosey’s blood alcohol level was .92. He admitted to drinking the liquid, but added that there were worse personal hygiene products he could have used, including rubbing alcohol and Listerine mouth wash.

Hosey was taken to the hospital for treatment.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Nashville News: Drunken Fun on Alcohol Hand Sanitizer

Courtesy of Walter Jowers; Nashville News

Yet another sign that the country's going straight to hell: Americans are drinking hand sanitizer, for the purpose of getting high. Well, maybe not high. More like rumbling, stumbling, staggering, bumbling, hearing-voices-and-seeing-Jesus drunk.And while I'm thinking about it, I might as well try to educate our hand-sanitizer-drinking brethren. You full-time alcoholics, listen to me. There are easier ways to see Jesus. Just walk into any medical office building, find doors that are faced with bookmatched wood veneer, and you'll see a Jesus, sooner or later. Every bookmatched door, by its very nature, depicts the image of a Jesus beard and a pair of Jesus eyes. Same goes for a plate of Pizza Hut spaghetti. But I digress.

In previous columns, I have shared with readers my shock and dismay in finding partially consumed bottles of beer and liquor in muddy, possum-infested under-floor crawlspaces. After discovering dozens, if not hundreds, of hard drinkers' hideaways, I now believe that if a person crawls under a house to be with the alcohol and possums for the express purpose of getting blind crazy drunk, well, that person has hit rock bottom.

Some weeks back, Reuters published a story about two men who were caught drinking Purell, a common hand sanitizer that any alcohol-seeker can find mounted on the wall of just about any building, even a nasty beer joint where you need hand sanitizer just to touch the hand-sanitizer dispenser. In the article, the writer pointed out that the alcohol in hand sanitizer isn't the same alcohol that's in adult beverages.

You hear that, Purell drinkers? You're drinking the wrong hooch. You're gulping down a jelly-like substance that's 60-plus percent ethanol. That's the stuff that'll rot your liver and brain before your throat stops burning. It's the stuff that'll make you try to stand up in a crawl space. A two-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer is pretty much equal to four shots of vodka. You'd be better off just drinking the vodka.

I know, I know. The vodka is expensive, but the hand sanitizer hanging on the wall is free. By the time security arrives, a hard-swigging man could have sucked the dispenser dry.

I don't know for sure, but I think folks who scrounge for and enjoy a stiff shot of hand sanitizer are already loaded down with a hatful of ailments, dilemmas and difficulties, and they're likelier than most to have missed out on the life lessons that could've kept them from getting into woeful predicaments.

For instance: hand sanitizer seekers may not know that the stuff will burn. I know that it burns. Just last Sunday I found myself in a scientific mood, so I squeezed some Purell onto the rim of a glass and lit the gel. Don't you know, up popped a festive little blue flame that didn't want to go out, no matter how hard I shook the glass. If I'd had liquor in the glass, I would've made a Fool's Margarita—a drink made even more dangerous because an impaired person probably wouldn't see that blue flame. In this hellish scenario, the drinker wouldn't fall into a ring of fire, the ring of fire would fall on him.

Recently, scientific folk at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have started recommending that people wash their hands not with alcohol-laden hand sanitizer.... It seems that they leave more bacteria on one's hands than soap and water. Hands being wrinkly and all, it's devilishly hard to know how many germs are crawling on them at any given time.

So, you folks who've been drinking hand sanitizer, maybe you ought to switch up your routine. Get off the hand-sanitizer gel and drink soapy water instead. Soapy water won't set you on fire or kill your liver and brain overnight, but it might cause some gastrointestinal surprises, if you know what I mean. Soap slickens things up.

If you just can't give up hand sanitizer, I say go ahead and rub it onto your hands, like you're supposed to. And while you're at it, check other body parts and intimate areas that could use a little cleanup. It couldn't hurt—well, except for the painful burning and chafing.

If things get desperate, I say canvass your area for old hippies. I've heard rumors that some hippies who still have their band hair have stocked warehouses with 1968-vintage Romilar cough syrup, which, believe it or not, was loaded with chloroform. True, it won't hand-sanitize your insides in the bargain. But it'll get the rest of the job done.


CBC News Canada:Alcohol in hand sanitizers worries schools

October 8, 2009

Alcohol in hand sanitizers worries schools

By CBC News

Concerns are being raised about the safety of giving children hand sanitizer because the high alcohol level makes it potentially intoxicating and flammable.

Concerns are being raised about the safety of giving children hand sanitizer because the high alcohol level makes it potentially intoxicating and flammable.
Health Canada has advised schools to consider installing sanitizer dispensers in order to fight the spread of the H1N1 flu.

But many brands contain more than 60 per cent alcohol, and a quick search of the popular video sharing website YouTube turns up numerous videos of students drinking the hand gel or lighting it on fire.

Some hand sanitizers are made with ethyl alcohol, the same type found in alcoholic drinks, but others are made with isopropyl alcohol, which can be fatal, even in small doses.

No dispensers in Vancouver schools

Vancouver School District spokesman David Weir said the board decided against installing alcohol-based hand sanitizer dispensers following reports that they were being vandalized by students to obtain the product inside. That raised concerns about students ingesting the gel or using it to start fires.
"We felt that the risk associated with alcohol hand sanitizer in the schools outweighs the potential benefits and that's why we made the decision that we did," said Weir.
Alcohol-based hand sanitizers only work on clean hands, and for students the preferred method for preventing the spread of viruses is proper hand washing with soap, said Weir.

"We do have it in writing from our local health officer that he recommends we do not install the dispensers," said Weir.

While the school district is not banning hand sanitizers, it will confiscate the product from any student caught misusing it, said Weir.

Hand sanitizers were also banned by the Cape-Breton-Victoria Regional School Board in Nova Scotia in September over concerns they might used to start fires.

4-year-old seriously intoxicated

Lacey Butler is one parent who learned of the risks firsthand when her four-year-old daughter Halle was given a squirt of hand sanitizer with an attractive fruit scent by a teacher at school.

CBC News tracked down Butler in Oklahoma, after her email warning to parents became an internet hit of its own.
Butler's daughter actually got sick two years ago, but the recent surge in use of hand sanitizers in schools turned her old message into an internet hit once again in recent weeks.

"The teacher says she went around to all students and squirted one squirt into each students hand," said Butler.

But rather than rub it on her hands, Halle licked and swallowed the gel, likely because it smelled of fruit.

"It was like someone her size drinking something like 120 proof [alcohol]," said Butler.

Halle became lethargic and incoherent, and at first nobody could figure out what was wrong with her, and she was rushed to hospital by her father.

After quizzing the girl's classmates, the teacher learned Halle had eaten the small squirt of hand sanitizer.

She spent a day in hospital hooked up to an IV drip, seriously ill with a dangerously high blood alcohol level.

"After doing research on the internet, we found out that it only takes about three squirts of the stuff ingested to be fatal to a toddler," Butler said.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

CDC Now Says NON-Alcohol Hand Sanitizers Appropriate for Schools

On June 13, 2009, this blog published a letter that was directed to the Secretary of the US Health and Services Administration and senior staff at the US Department of Education in response to a long out-dated position that otherwise found the US Government (via CDC, HHS and DOE) seemingly endorsing alcohol-based sanitizers for use by school children; the age group that is most  susceptible to easily transmitted viruses, including Swine Flu/H1N1.
That letter pointed out the obvious dangers of alcohol-based products, the questionable logic of applying said products to the skin, and that any expert will attest to the fact that alcohol causes the skin to become dry/irritated, which necessarily increases the risk of exposure to bacteria and viruses.
The letter included a copy of an email exchange with then Interim Director of the US Centers For Disease Control Richard Besser, which took place one month earlier, informed Dr. Besser that schools and major universities throughout the country (e.g. 400+ public schools, Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Arkansas, to name just a few) have disregarded CDC's out-dated position promoting alcohol gels, and these schools have systematically banned alcohol hand sanitizers. It was pointed out to Dr. Besser that those schools have determined alcohol hand sanitizer products are more dangerous than they are 'effective'.  In reply, Dr. Besser (now the ABC News Health Reporter) acknowledged a "communication challenge within CDC" with regard to CDC's failure to update their policy position on the topic of hand sanitizers, a policy paper that was written in 1996 and intended exclusively for professional health care workers within hospital venues.
The June 13 letter further pointed to widely-accepted scientific data that supported the use of certain non-alcohol formulas as an alternative hand hygiene solution, and referenced certain manufacturers that had already submitted independent lab evaluations to both the CDC and FDA to memorialize the scientific findings demonstrating their respective product's efficacy.
Well, we're happy to report that CDC, under the new leadership of Dr. Thomas Frieden, has finally modified its position, and CDC is now actually recognizing non-alcohol hand sanitizers for the age group that is most susceptible to viruses.
Proving that "bloggers" might actually be a positive influence! Some would argue that were it not for citizens taking matters into their own hands (pun intended), and leveraging the power of freedom of speech via the Internet, schools throughout the country would remain reliant on ill-informed, over-worked and politically-motivated bureaucrats that just don't seem to get it--unless they get hit over the head with it.
Via “Flu.Gov” the CDC just published a report entitled:
Technical Report for State and Local Public Health Officials and School Administrators on CDC Guidance for School (K-12) Responses to Influenza during the 2009-2010 School Year
Here's the excerpt that where the CDC now recognizes that school systems are systematically banning alcohol-based sanitizers, and where the CDC actually acknowledges non-alcohol sanitizers:
Influenza may spread via contaminated hands or inanimate objects that become contaminated with influenza viruses. CDC recommends that students and staff be encouraged to wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing or sneezing. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective at killing flu germs, but may not be allowed in all schools. If soap and water are not available, and if alcohol-based products are not allowed in the school, other hand sanitizers that do not contain alcohol may be useful...
When clicking on the link to the full memo issued by CDC, the reader will notice that CDC incorporates a caveat, with a statement "..CDC believes there is less evidence with respect to the effectiveness of non-alcohol products when compared to the evidence available re: alcohol..."
The fact of the matter is that CDC and FDA are in possession of exhaustive independent evidence corroborating the effectiveness of certain non-alcohol (e.g. benzalkonium choloride-based) products, although this evidence may be less than 10 years old vs. "older" evidence with respect to alcohol.
That said, a cynic would argue that the FDA regularly "approves" prescription drugs for cancer patients that have been tested on prison inmates, so why the reticence to be more assertive when it comes to something as innocuous as non-alcohol hand sanitizers?
Perhaps the larger makers of alcohol-based products have perfected the art of lobbying? After all, we know that GOJO Industries visits this blog on a daily basis, hoping to find scraps that could help them undermine competitors that are promoting non-alcohol hand sanitizers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Purdue University expert: Alcohol hand sanitizers NOT effective

By Chuck Poulsen

The Clean Hands Police are shaking their little sanitized fists at us and demanding that we soak our hands in some gooey alcohol-based gel that smells like gardenias.
The Clean Hands Police are a subsection of the Healthy Eating Gestapo, which operates under the Ministry of Environmental Salvation and Self-righteousness (MESS).
The mission statement for MESS is right to the point: “Do what we say with your life, or else. Hallelujah.”
The clean hands hysteria – and once started, don’t think it will ever go away – is reminiscent of the people who built bomb shelters in the late ‘50s and ended up using them as wine cellars.
School District 23 has six web pages on swine flu, including information on how parents and children might deal with anxiety produced by fear of the flu. Halloween won’t be nearly as scary.
The Clean Hands Police have already learned from MESS how to humiliate the unfaithful.
This was shown by U.S. Secretary of Health, Kathleen Sebelius, who was freaked out by NBC reporter Chuck Todd because he covered a sneeze with his hand.
“What’s that about?” Sebelius shrieked twice, as if Todd had just accidentally detonated a nuclear weapon.
Then she showed Todd how to cover his sneeze with the crux of her elbow. Swinging her arm away after the sneeze, she looked like Count Dracula whipping out his cape.
Said Sebelius: “Who’s got some Purell? Give it to Mr Todd right away.”
Purcell has about 70 per cent alcohol so you could forgive Todd for not throwing back a shot after absorbing the hellfire scolding from Sebelius.
The amount of alcohol in hand cleaners is something the Clean Hands Police have not thought through.
Reports are coming in from emergency rooms about children with alcohol poisoning after drinking the sweet-smelling sanitizers. With parents handing Purell out to their kids by the millions, we can bet some will give it a taste no matter if they are told not too. I can see teenagers purposely drinking the stuff for an alcoholic buzz.

A Purdue University professor who teaches sanitation practices for food service workers says alcohol hand sanitizers might not even work very well.

“Research shows that they do not significantly reduce the overall amount of bacteria on the hands, and in some cases they may even increase it,” says Barbara Almanza, associate professor at Purdue.

Almanza says the typical alcohol hand sanitizer,  strips the skin of the outer layer of oil, which normally prevents resident bacteria from coming to the surface.

“Generally, this resident flora is not the type that will make us sick,” Almanza says, “but the assumption is that when you have an increase in overall bacteria, the chances are better that a disease-causing strain will be present.”
Yet the manufacturers of these alcohol products can continue to claim that their sanitizers are up to 99.9 percent effective in killing germs because they were tested on inanimate surfaces rather than human hands.

“The physiological complexity of human skin makes it very difficult to use for testing of this nature,” Almanza says. “The most clear and consistent results were going to come from using surfaces for which the variables can be controlled, and that’s just not real life. Real life is not neat and tidy.”

Alcohol Hand gel faulted for fouling up Swedish bus service

Published: 1 Oct 09 11:54 CET
Dictionary tool Double click on a word to get a translation
Bus service in Östersund in northern Sweden has been disrupted due to an increased in the number of drivers using alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

As it turns out, the vapors from hands recently disinfected by the get are triggering built-in ignition locks designed to combat drunken driving.

"I know that this has happened in a case when the driver was unable to start the bus because of it; the bus was left standing for ten minutes," Micke Bernervall, CEO of local operator Stadsbusserna told local newspaper Länstidningen Östersund.

The alcohol-based sanitizers have been broadly touted as the first line of defence against the spread of the swine flu and have become a regular feature of waiting rooms and offices across Sweden in recent months.

However a spate of fires to person and property in the past fortnight have illustrated the dangers of the disinfectant, and now city bus services have also suffered unlikely disruption as the flu takes its toll in unforeseen ways.

"We took a company decision to not provide the sanitizers to the drivers in our buses. It is not a good idea," Bernervall said.

He added however that drivers looking to stop the spread of the flu and protect themselves from infection are entitled to take along their own supplies.

All of Östersund's buses have been equipped with the sensitive breath alcohol ignition interlock devices, a move that has been welcomed by the operator despite the apparent threat of stationary buses.

"It is important that the interlock device is very sensitive," Micke Bernervall underlined.

MinnPost - New alcohol problem for schools: hand sanitizers

MinnPost - New alcohol problem for schools: hand sanitizers

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The Best Alcohol Free Hand Sanitizers

Cleanse and Protect Without Water or Alcohol

Coughing and sneezing increases with the cold and flu season; however, these are not the only times we need to think about hand sanitizers. Disease and germs are also a risk factor and using alcohol free hand sanitization products will reduce your risk of becoming ill. Many individuals
 prefer alcohol free hand sanitizers because they are less drying than those containing alcohol. Studies have proven that these hand sanitizers are effective in fighting the spread of germs and disease as those containing alcohol. If you are searching for the best alcohol free hand sanitizers, look no further than the top five alcohol free hand sanitizers:

1. The Germinator by BabyGanics is an alcohol free, foaming cleanser that kills 99.9% of germs. This waterless cleanser is safe for use with children because it does not contain alcohol but it also does not contain any other harsh chemicals, dyes or VOCs. The Germinator is also non-toxic and safe for people, pets and the environment. Available online from BabyGanics or at retailers such as Toys-R-Us. This makes a great item to include in baby shower gift baskets.

2. Soapopular® is not only alcohol-free but is fragrance-free and dye-free as well so that it is better for you. The easy to use foaming cleanser does not require water for rinsing which is convenient and easy to use anywhere you need to clean your hands. Effective against a wide array of bacteria, germs and viruses to protect your entire family without the issues associated with alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Conveniently available in many sizes including bulk orders. Visit their website for a free sample and pricing list.

3. CleanWell's All-Natural Hand Sanitizer does not contain alcohol and it is all natural too. There are no harsh or toxic chemicals used making this hand sanitizer safe for kids to use and gentle on little hands. CleanWell uses essential plant oils to kill germs so that it is safe for you and safe for the environment. This hand sanitizer will protect against diseases without over-drying your hands as other products containing alcohol do.