Can using hand sanitizers get you drunk?
Not a chance. But when used in excess, they might make your body appear so on one kind of alcohol test, says one study.
In the experiment, 11 participants used the hand sanitizer Purell once every five minutes during three 10-hour days. After taking twice-a-day urine tests and abstaining from drinking alcohol, all but one of the participants "failed."
The average person may not use that much hand sanitizer, but the work environments of many medical professionals rely on the product for sanitation between treating patients, especially when people don't have access to a sink with soap. It's also true that employers of these professions may subject employees to alcohol tests on a regular basis.
The research was inspired by previous reports of pharmacists and nurses losing their licenses because of failing these tests. One nurse from Pennsylvania placed responsibility on hand sanitizers for her failed test, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Since urine tests span beyond recent consumption measured by breathalyzers, they are often used in professional settings. Specifically, the compounds ethyl glucuronide (EtG) and ethyl sulfate (EtS) remain in the body longer than ethanol (alcohol), which makes them helpful indicators to measure whether a person has had an alcoholic beverage in previous days. On average, these compounds can remain in urine for more than 100 hours after a person drinks, the authors write.