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Girl, 5, Hospitalized After Consuming Half a Bottle of Hand Sanitizer

Pennsylvania girl had it on her desk at kindergarten, mother says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2021 6:07 PM CDT
Kindergarten Student Hospitalized After Consuming Hand Sanitizer
The girl collapsed by lunchtime, her mother says.   (Getty Images/FanVeld)

(Newser) – A little girl in Pennsylvania consumed hand sanitizer on her second day of kindergarten and ended up in the hospital with a frighteningly high level of blood alcohol, her mother says. The 5-year-old's mother tells CBS Pittsburgh that initially, nobody was sure what was wrong with the girl. "The principal called and said to get to the school immediately,” she says. "She was walking a little wobbly down the hall. By the time they got to the classroom, to the lunchroom, she fell and couldn’t sit up straight." The mom says the girl, who was "completely out of it," was rushed to the hospital.

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The mother says the Moon County school eventually determined that the girl had consumed hand sanitizer at her desk. "This class, each student has their own sanitizer pump bottle at their desk with their name on it for their personal use," she says. "My daughter had consumed half of that bottle. She consumed 6 ounces of 70% alcohol." Her blood alcohol level was .23%, almost triple the state's DUI limit. The mother says hand sanitizer was included on the list of school supplies. The school's superintendent says students are allowed to have bottles of sanitizer on their desk or in their backpacks, but it isn't mandatory.

The mother, who has two other young children, wants other parents to be aware of the dangers, reports the New York Daily News. Dr. Michael Lynch, head of the Pittsburgh Poison Center, says there has been a rise of more than 50% in hand sanitizer exposure cases, mostly involving children under 5, since the start of the pandemic. "Hand sanitizers will typically have 70% or so ethanol, which means they’re about 140 proof," he says. "Even a small amount can be enough to get intoxicated." (Read more hand sanitizer stories.)

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