Handy advice

Study sheds light on sanitizer and alcohol tests

Hand sanitizer is becoming more and more readily available in restrooms, grocery stores and other public places, but excessive use of the stuff could cause a false positive when being tested for alcohol consumption, according to a new University of Florida study.

The three-day study involved subjects who refrained from alcohol consumption but applied hand sanitizer every five minutes for 10 hours each day. Some tested positive for alcohol consumption, prompting researchers to conclude that individuals whose jobs require using alcohol-based sanitizer in large amounts (such as doctors and nurses) could potentially fail an alcohol-consumption test. However, it is improbable that an individual who uses hand sanitizer only a few times a day would test positive.

Dr. Gary Reisfield, co-author of the study, became curious about hand sanitizer’s effect on alcohol tests after crossing paths with individuals at a Florida drug- and alcohol-recovery center who tested positive but denied they had consumed any alcohol.