Q: I’m a school teacher. As part of my job, I have to spray hand sanitizers on myself and the kids several times a day. I’ve read that not all hand sanitizers are kid-safe. What would you recommend? – Ann in Bixby
A: Hand sanitizers can be a great way to prevent the spread of cold, flu, and many other infections.
Some products are better than others. In previous posts, we’ve talked about the fact that the skin absorbs chemicals well. Kids also drink and lick things that they shouldn’t. Nearly 12,000 American children drank hand sanitizers in 2006. So, stick to hand sanitizers that are safe to eat in the first place, and both you and the kids will be better off.
Chemicals to avoid are ethyl alcohol and Triclosan. A 2 ounce bottle of Purell equals 4 shots of Jack Daniels whisky — not the sort of thing to leave around a curious first grader. Triclosan’s safety is unclear. It definitely pollutes water and harms fish and frogs. It may suppress thyroid function in humans. Triclosan has also become less effective as microbes develop resistance. For that reason, the American Medical Association advises against home use of Triclosan.
Fortunately, there are safer options. A product made from thyme oil kills 99.99% of bacteria on contact and can be purchased at your local health food store.