Pick Your Poison: Swine Flu or Hand Sanitizer

Recent H1N1-inspired flood of alcohol-based products into schools are also flammable
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2009 12:52 PM CDT
Pick Your Poison: Swine Flu or Hand Sanitizer
Hand sanitizer dispensers are becoming ubiquitous, from kindergarten to college.   (AP Photo)

Schools are loading up on hand sanitizer in an effort to fight swine flu—but the alcohol-based panacea has problems of its own, the Chicago Tribune reports. Bottles and dispensers of the stuff are ubiquitous in classrooms, and officials have belatedly realized the dangers of its 65% alcohol content. “If there's an ignition source, it could catch on fire,” a fire official says.

Explosive alcohol paranoia caused a Florida county to ban hand sanitizer before swine flu paranoia forced reconsideration. Meanwhile, alcoholics, prison inmates, and even a Texas teen have attempted to exploit the sanitizer’s intoxicating possibilities; the teen tried to sniff it. If students are “monitored and they're taught how to use it,” a school nurse says, “the benefit far outweighs the risk.” (More H1N1 virus stories.)

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