Don’t Drink the Purell

When I first read this headline — “Doctors Warn of Poisoning From Hand Gels” — I assumed the accompanying Reuters article was about the potential danger of becoming too dependent on alcohol-based disinfectants like Purell. (Here’s an article we wrote about hospital-acquired infections and the pressing need for medical personnel to clean their hands; here’s a more recent development.) The idea is that Purell can become ineffective as bacteria evolve and adapt; old-fashioned soap and water, meanwhile, is less fickle.

So imagine my surprise when I saw that the Reuters article was in fact about two people who have been sickened by drinking the Purell. One was a prison inmate, the other a hospitalized alcoholic. They were taking big slugs of the stuff because they wanted the alcohol content. But, as the article informs us, the alcohol in Purell is “not the same kind as found in beverages.”

“Evidently,” the article continued, “people misunderstand the labels that show the gels, foams and liquids contain alcohol, the doctors said in separate letters to the New England Journal of Medicine. Cases of people drinking the hand gels because of their alcohol content have not previously been reported in major medical journals.”

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  1. Ken Dyck says:

    That’s nothing. Have you seen the recent story in New Scientist? Natural oils gave young boys breasts.

    Three young boys grew breast tissue after exposure to lotions and shampoos containing lavender or tea tree oil, researchers say.

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  2. Ken Dyck says:

    That’s nothing. Have you seen the recent story in New Scientist? Natural oils gave young boys breasts.

    Three young boys grew breast tissue after exposure to lotions and shampoos containing lavender or tea tree oil, researchers say.

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  3. Just goes to show what people will do when they are desperate. I guess this includes drinking hand sanitizer

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  4. Just goes to show what people will do when they are desperate. I guess this includes drinking hand sanitizer

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  5. prosa says:

    Purell is the new Sterno.

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  6. prosa says:

    Purell is the new Sterno.

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  7. Imsdal says:

    Old news in Sweden. See:
    http://www.aftonbladet.se/vss/nyheter/story/0,2789,193654,00.html (in Swedish, from 2002)

    14 year old morons drink soap mixed with Fanta to get drunk. To make things even more unappealing, the soap comes from portable cans at festivals, which tend to be the dirtiest things imaginable…

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  8. Imsdal says:

    Old news in Sweden. See:
    http://www.aftonbladet.se/vss/nyheter/story/0,2789,193654,00.html (in Swedish, from 2002)

    14 year old morons drink soap mixed with Fanta to get drunk. To make things even more unappealing, the soap comes from portable cans at festivals, which tend to be the dirtiest things imaginable…

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0