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Two die after drinking alcohol hand sanitiser
30.October.2013

Two die after drinking alcohol hand sanitiser

Canadian authorities say two people have died after ingesting an alcohol based hand sanitiser containing methanol, a highly toxic and undeclared ingredient.

Tests conducted by Ontario’s Centre of Forensic Sciences on two bottles of the alcohol based Bodico Hand Sanitiser found they contained methanol, a highly toxic alcohol that can cause blindness or death if ingested, and not ethyl alcohol, the active ingredient listed for the product.

Product labels did warn against the dangers of ingestion the two compounds are difficult to differentiate due to similarities in appearance and odour.

Authorities have not yet revealed details concerning the deceased but did warn that alcohol based hand sanitisers should never be ingested.

Although the undeclared methanol is currently being investigated as the cause of death even legitimate alcohol based hand sanitisers present significant dangers. A mentally disabled man from Ohio, US, died in 2011 after drinking alcohol based hand sanitiser and reports of alcoholics stealing sanitiser from public park toilets and NHS wards suggest a wider issue.

Despite continued warnings from health-care professionals, a simple YouTube search collects countless hits of teenagers ingesting hand sanitisers to get intoxicated. Worryingly, ‘how-to’ videos even explain the process required to turn hand sanitiser into pure alcohol.

The problem is becoming a major concern in the US as teenagers in particular seem unaware of the dangers of such a high content of alcohol. One especially worrying incident saw two 13-year-old students charged with attempted poisoning after periodically slipping alcohol based hand sanitiser into their teachers tea over a three month period.

Canadian authorities are now issuing warning notices and recalling Bodico product.

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