TAMPA, Fla. -
You can find it everywhere online. Videos of teenagers ingesting hand sanitizer, hoping to get a buzz from the alcohol content in the liquid. Now teens aren't the only ones.
"We're seeing younger and younger and younger people involved in it," said Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger at Tampa's Poison Control Center.
Health officials believe the cases are underreported, so there's no way to know for sure how many kids have become sick from drinking the chemicals. In at least two reported cases, officials say they were shocked by the age of the users.
"Cases we reported this year of this kind of abuse included a 6 and 7-year-old," Dr. Lewis-Younger said. "The story was that they intentionally added it to a drink at their school."
Liquid hand sanitizer is 62-percent ethyl alcohol, which equates to a 120 proof drink. The danger was most recently seen in California, where a half dozen teens were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.
Experts say the biggest problem is access. Any teen can buy the liquid, which is inexpensive, and a lot of kids can easily find it at home. Some school districts across the country are now weighing whether they should ban the pumps out of every classroom. A spokesperson for Hillsborough County Schools says they do not have any plans yet to address the issue.
"It may be something of value for school nurses to have, but laying around in every classroom? No!," Dr. Lewis-Younger said.
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