There's a new troubling trend among teenagers -- trying to get drunk by guzzling hand sanitizer.
Children's Hospital of Los Angeles reports that six area teens have landed in emergency rooms with alcohol after drinking the cheap liquid.
The teens are distilling the hand sanitizer products, which typically contain at least 62 percent ethyl alcohol, using salt to separate the alcohol. The result is a powerful 120 proof shot.
"If a person has never had alcohol before, they can get drunk almost instantaneously," Dr. Calvin Lowe told NBC Los Angeles. "It's very, very dangerous."
Using hand sanitizer to get drunk is similar to earlier get-wasted fads of young people downing mouthwash or cough syrup, also known as robo-tripping. In 2010 the cough medicine abuse trend prompted a Food and Drug Adminstration panel to weigh whether to require a prescription to buy products containing dextromethorphan, the ingredient found in numerous over-the-counter cough and cold medicines.
The FDA panel voted against the proposal.
While there have been prior cases of people drinking hand sanitizer, the salt procedure is relatively new, Helen Arbogast, injury prevention coordinator-Trauma Program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, said in a statement.
Although the emergency room cases appear limited to Los Angeles county for now, experts are concerned the trend could go viral as more teens discover how to distill the liquid sanitizer on the web. Children's Hospital is recommending that concerned parents treat hand sanitizer like liquor or medicine -- don't leave it lying around, NBC reports.
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