Hand Sanitizer Cocktail Poses New Dangers
April 07--Some homeless people desperate for alcohol are mixing up a potent cocktail made from mouthwash and hand sanitizer, which police say may be linked to two recent Albuquerque deaths.
Police Chief Ray Schultz on Friday called on retailers to voluntarily refrain from selling hand sanitizer to people they suspect may abuse the product.
"Over the next few weeks, we hope to educate the owners of convenience stores, gas stations and liquor stores and ask them not to sell these products to people who are already intoxicated," Schultz said at a news conference.
Hand sanitizer, which became a national obsession during the 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic, contains at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol -- the same substance found in beer, wine and liquor.
The New Mexico Poison Center since Jan. 1 has received 14 reports of people who ingested hand sanitizer, said Dr. Steven Seifert, the center's medical director. None of those cases resulted in death or serious injury.
Poison control centers nationwide received reports of about 3,700 cases of hand sanitizer ingestion in 2011, according to the National Poison Data System. None resulted in death but two resulted in serious injuries.
Nearly 3,500 of those cases resulted from unintentional exposure. More than 2,900 cases involved children age five or younger.
Chronic alcoholics frequently mix hand sanitizer with mouthwash, which also contains ethyl alcohol, said APD Deputy Chief Paul Feist.
"The alcohol content in many of these cocktails they are making is very strong," Feist said. "An 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer here would be the equivalent of five shots of a hard liquor once it's mixed."
Police pointed to two recent deaths in which victims may have consumed hand sanitizer. They are:
On Feb. 21, police found the body of Evangeline Largo, 47, in Downtown Albuquerque with several empty bottles of mouthwash nearby. Schultz said bottles of hand sanitizer also were found at the scene. A police incident report about Largo's death does not include any mention of hand sanitizer.
Police found the bloodcovered body of Kennard Chee, 42, on March 20 in the 500 block of Roma NW. Two men said they had consumed mouthwash and hand sanitizer with Chee before his death. Police arrested Donald Domingo, 53, and Andrew Kinlichinniee, 48, each on an open count of murder in Chee's beating death. Both men remained in jail on Friday in lieu of bond. Online
Watch the police chief talk about the deadly cocktail at ABQjournal.com
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