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Banner Health poison center director says don’t drink hand sanitizer

A bottle of hand sanitizer sits on a cart as Des Moines Public Schools custodian Tracy Harris cleans a chair in a classroom at Brubaker Elementary School, Wednesday, July 8, 2020, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

PHOENIX — Human ingestion of household cleaning products and hand sanitizer has seen an uptick during the coronavirus pandemic.

Daniel Brooks, medical director of Banner Drug and Poison Information Center, has been monitoring this trend that has seen both hospitalizations and deaths occur from individuals drinking hand sanitizer in Arizona within the last three weeks.

“We think it’s mostly due to misuse of hand sanitizers in an attempt to get intoxicated, meaning many hand sanitizers have alcohol in it — ethyl alcohol,” Brooks told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“Unfortunately there are now some products that have methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, which is toxic.”

Brooks said that he has seen deaths and significant injuries as a result, including patients having to go into intensive care units and receive hemodialysis.

Hemodialysis is the process in which water and waste are filtered out of a person’s blood — a treatment normally used for those with failing kidneys.

Brooks said it’s not so much about which type of alcohol is in any given hand sanitizer, but rather how people are using it.

“Every person should know not to drink hand sanitizer,” he said. “Folks should never misuse household products, including cleaning products.

Brooks has taken care of patients that have ingested household cleaning products and said while some are doing it to get intoxicated, some are doing it out of concern for coronavirus.

“We know there’s a lot of concern about COVID-19, we understand that, but they’re using cleaning products inappropriately like gargling or drinking these products thinking that it’ll stop them from getting infected, but that’s not true,” Brooks said.

“They’re not intended to stop you from getting infected internally from COVID-19.”

Brooks noted that it is of the utmost importance to get accurate information, which can be found on state health websites and/or by calling poison control.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Debra Dale contributed to this report.

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