American children are "getting drunk off hand sanitizer like they never have before," reports Vice.
Sure, urban legends and even a few cringe-worthy YouTube videos have suggested that downing a bottle of sanitizer is an economical and easy way to get drunk. But the problem is that many brands of hand sanitizer contain isopropyl alcohol, which is not the same stuff as what's in your dad's prized bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. They'll both get you drunk, but the former is more likely to cause blindness, organ damage, and death.
Here's CNN's John Bonifeld:
Since 2010, poison control center hotlines across the United States have seen a nearly 400% increase in calls related to children younger than 12 ingesting hand sanitizer, according to new analysis by the Georgia Poison Center.
"Kids are getting into these products more frequently, and unfortunately, there's a percentage of them going to the emergency room," said Dr. Gaylord Lopez, the center's director.
But this "troubling trend" is also a recurring local news stock story. Here's ABC in 2012:
Some of the teenagers used salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, making a potent drink that is similar to a shot of hard liquor.
"All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager," said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
And The BBC in 2009.
It is believed the gel was mixed with a drink before it was consumed.
In March, Royal Bournemouth Hospital said it was one of many hospitals removing alcohol-based hand cleaning gel from reception areas in a bid to stop visitors drinking it. …
"When you get something called alcohol gel you can see what is going to happen.
Christian Broadcast News hit the Purell in 2007. Wired was writing about the recreational use of isopropanol, too, albeit as a bad idea for grownups.
Tufts-New England Medical Center has taken measures to keep emergency room patients from chugging hand sanitizer in order to get drunk or injure themselves. Corresponding with the Annals of Emergency Medicine this month, Scott Weiner said that the changes came after a 27-year-old man poisoned himself by drinking a 15-ounce container of Cal Stat antiseptic hand rub — twice during a two month period.
Buzzfeed has "14 Things You Need To Know About Drinking Hand Sanitizer," a " hot new trend."
Snopes says that it happens, obviously, but also that the news stories contain factual errors and unverifiable details.