When I saw the Reuters headline, “Doctors warn of poisoning from hand gels,” I assumed that there was new evidence that showed hand sanitizers were dangerous, and that a lot of people had been afflicted with the problem after cleaning their hands with Purell, Germ-X, or some other similar product.
The truth is that a couple of doctors had written to the New England Journal of Medicine about two men — yes, two! — who had suffered ill effects after drinking large quantities of this goo, because it contains alcohol. One of them was a prison inmate who consumed about a gallon of Purell, the other was an alcoholic who was seen sucking the dispenser in a men’s room.
The doctors explained: “When asked why he ingested the hand cleaner, he pointed to the label, which read, ‘Active ingredient 63 percent v/v isopropyl alcohol.’ He explained that this percentage is higher than that in vodka.” Well, sure, but that’s because there is zero isopropyl alcohol in vodka, you moron!
In their letters to the NEJM, the doctors want the manufacturers of hand sanitizers to change the labels on their products so others won’t make this mistake.
I suggest a different path. Let’s leave the labels exactly as they are. Then, if anyone becomes ill or dies from drinking large quantities of the goo in a desperate attempt to quench their alcoholic thirst, we point out how stupid they were and chalk it up to Darwinism at its finest. Maybe we offer them a Robitussin chaser.