A 14-year-old student at Killian Middle School in Lewisville picked up a bottle of hand sanitizer from the desk of his reading teacher, rubbed the gel on his hands, and then smelled it. According to the teacher, he "inhaled heavily."
The student said he sniffed it because it "smelled good." But the school authorities claimed he sniffed it because he was trying to get high. They gave him an in-school suspension, and then proceeded to file criminal charges against him. WFAA.com reports:
Joni Eddy, assistant police chief in Lewisville, said Friday that hand sanitizer has become a popular inhalant. "That is the latest thing to huff," she said.
She said officers felt they were acting properly when they pursued the case against Mr. Ortiz's son under a complex state statute governing volatile chemicals that could be abused.
"The charge said he was using the product other than its intended use," she said. "Huffing hand sanitizer is certainly using it for something other than its intended use."
Hand sanitizers usually contain a high percentage of ethyl alcohol, a flammable liquid used in a wide range of industrial products and alcoholic beverages.
Thankfully, common sense eventually prevailed and prosecutors dropped the charges. As far as I know, it's not possible to get high by "huffing hand sanitizer." Unless, perhaps, you were to do it to the point that it deprived you of enough oxygen. I'm not sure what strange rumors the police were believing when they pursued this case. The WFAA article includes a statement from the National Institute on Drug Abuse debunking the hand-sanitizer-huffing rumor:
Shirley Simson, a spokeswoman for the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Washington, said in an e-mail that the agency had no data about hand sanitizers being abused as inhalants. She noted, however, that there have been news reports of some people drinking hand sanitizers for their alcohol content.
It reminds me of the recent Jenkem scare, in which Florida police issued a bulletin warning that local kids were getting high by sniffing the fermenting gas from human sewage.