Hand Sanitizer Safety For Children

Everywhere we look these days, wall-mount dispensers in public spaces readily provide alcohol-based hand sanitizers. These products are easily accessible and inexpensive. However, there is danger lurking in alcohol-based hand sanitizer – whether dispensed from a wall or from a convenient travel-sized bottle – including injury and death.

Federal agencies have warned against the scented hand sanitizers, adding flavoring to these products, and marketing hand sanitizers in food and beverage packaging. The potential for children to ingest hand sanitizer increases with these factors in place. The risks that these commonly available products pose with children – and now adults – is a rapidly growing societal problem worldwide.

The FDA can issue warnings about specific brands of products. However, the agency does not hold the power to recall products. It is up to a manufacturer to voluntarily recall products. When a product manufacturer ignores governmental warnings, these products can remain on the market.


Research analyzed by the National Poison Data System (NPDS) from 2011–14 on exposures to alcohol and non-alcohol-based hand sanitizers in children who were 12 years old or younger indicates that 92% of exposures were from alcohol-based hand sanitizers (See figure 1).

  • A total of 70,669 hand sanitizer exposures in this age group were reported to NPDS
  • 65,293 (92%) were alcohol-based exposures
  • 5,376 (8%) were non-alcohol-based exposures

New research from the United Kingdom states that alcohol-based hand sanitizer poisonings reported to the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) jumped 157% — from 155 between January 1 and September 16, 2019, to 398 between January 1 and September 14, 2020.

With more alcohol-based hand sanitizer products readily available, the risks to children and adults have increased significantly.

Poison control research data indicates the most common type of adverse health effects for hand sanitizers were ocular irritation, vomiting, conjunctivitis, oral irritation, cough, and abdominal pain. Rare effects included coma, seizure, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and respiratory depression. Death has occurred from ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

It is important to note that alcohol-based sanitizers pose the most risk to children. Children’s internal organs, specifically the liver, is not fully developed and cannot process the alcohol content in hand sanitizers as an adult can.


Each one fluid ounce bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer contains the equivalent of 120-140 proof liquor, depending on the active ingredient (ethanol or isopropyl alcohol). With governmental guidance increasing the alcohol content in hand sanitizer in 2020, the equivalent is now between 150-160 proof liquor in a “travel sized” bottle (See figure 2).

While research data indicates most exposures (91%) occurred in children 5 years or younger, poison control research has proven that 35% of hands sanitizer ingestions by children occurred at schools in one state.

Adults are intentionally ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers directly from hospital wall dispensers, a new medical report now indicates.


There are two paths to alcohol-free hand hygiene. The first is soap and warm water and, if not available, to use hand sanitizers. Excessive hand washing and the use of hot water will lead to the disruption of the skin’s natural acid mantle protection. The acid mantle in skin, the body’s largest organ, is a natural anti-microbial protection mechanism. If there is a disruption in the skin’s natural protection, microbes have an open pathway to enter the body.

The second path to alcohol-free hand hygiene is with benzalkonium chloride also known as “BZK”. This quaternary ammonium compound is an approved alcohol-free active ingredient in hand sanitizers. Quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) were discovered 103 years ago and have been used in sanitizing for more than 90-years.

Classified as organic salts, QACs can also be synthesized. QACs are prevalent in everyday use products including hand sanitizers, anti-static laundry treatments, ophthalmological solutions, baby wipes, mouthwash and more. QACs are also used in the commercial food preparation industry. While BZK is gentle on the skin, it has a profound, long-lasting effect on microbes.

In addition, QACs such as BZK are non-flammable. It was recently explained by the National Fire Protection Association that the flashpoint of alcohol is 63 degrees Fahrenheit and bulk storage is considered in quantities over 5-gallons. When consumers, retail and commercial product suppliers, and institutions stock hand sanitizer inventory, it is critical to consult the national fire code to ensure public safety. These measures may include offsite storage facilities with fire sprinklers.


By design, GlanHealth’s alcohol-free hand sanitizing solutions that contain BZK are a much safer alternative for child safety worldwide. These eco-friendly water-based, non-toxic products have been adopted by countries, institutions, businesses, and consumers as an end-to-end solution for addressing public and personal safety. GlanHealth™ products are non-flammable as well as non-toxic. There are no fire code regulations to adhere to with bulk storage of GlanHealth™.

A scientific breakthrough with water based QAC formulations in all GlanHealth™ products leverages cellular polarity for magnetism to spread a precise amount of material across surfaces with accuracy. This requires less material surface use than traditional products resulting in a much more cost-effective, long-term sanitizing solution. GlanHealth™ products are also anti-static so protecting textiles, metals, and electronics is safe and easy.

By incorporating residential, institution, and business electrostatic sanitizing spray services every 28-days, in addition to wipe and spot spray on frequently used surfaces, achieving floor-to-ceiling coverage with 360-degree adhesion of a nano-thin layer of protection is simple and safe on all surfaces.

GlanHealth™ ensures public trust to once again frequent:

  • Mass transit airplanes, busses, cruise ships, and vehicles for hire
  • Homes, offices buildings, hotels, warehouses
  • Grocery stores, restaurants, food production facilities
  • Daycares, schools, and Universities
  • Hospitals and healthcare facilities
  • City halls, community centers, government buildings
  • Gymnasiums, parks, and public restrooms
  • Churches, temples, synagogues, and houses of worship
  • Addiction treatment facilities
  • Correctional facilities, jails, and prisons
  • Entertainment venues

…and more.

For information on owning an electrostatic sprayer for use with GlanHealth’s All Purpose Surface Complete, visit https://glanhealth.com/electrostatic-sprayers/.

For a complete list of GlanHealth sanitizing solution components from skin to surface, visit https://glanhealth.com