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Dangerous Trend: Teens Drinking Hand Sanitizer, Equivalent To 120 Proof Liquor

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Talk about a recipe for disaster.

It appears that teenagers have found a way to extract and drink the alcohol in hand sanitizers, giving parents something else to worry about when dropping their kids off at school, CBS 2's Dana Tyler reported.

Health officials at Children's Hospital Los Angeles issued a warning Tuesday, saying hand sanitizer certainly can be dangerous. In the past few weeks, eight teenagers have visited local emergency rooms after distilling or drinking the gel, and 2,600 cases of hand sanitizer overdoses have been reported in California since 2010, Tyler reported.

"We should treat these hand sanitizers like we treat any medication in the home," said Dr. Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the county public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

1010 WINS' John Montone reports


Liquid hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol, which can make a shot of 120 proof liquor, Tyler reported.

Teenagers have come up with makeshift distilleries, using salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer to come up with a potent drink -- like a hard shot of liquor.

"They can get recipes from their friends or over the Internet, and if they don't do that, some of them are just drinking it straight," Rangan said.

Rowina Aquino has three teenagers and they use a lot of hand sanitizer, and now she is rethinking her family's germ defense.

"It is a lot of alcohol [and is] not going to be safe for my children," Aquino said.

Mark Coleman and his son told Tyler they haven't heard about getting drunk from hand sanitizer, but they aren't surprised it's happening.

"They smell it and smells like their parents' alcohol and they go for it," Coleman said. "I've heard of one kid doing that to clean his mouth, but not to get high," Coleman's son told Tyler.

Medical experts say hand sanitizers should have warning labels in order to alert parents of the potential risks.

Also, if parents buy hand sanitizer, experts say they should purchase the foam version rather than the gel type because it is harder to extract the alcohol from the foam and teenagers may be less likely to drink it.

Do you keep hand sanitizer in your home? Will this make you think twice about doing so? Comment below.

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