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Hand sanitizers are a viable alternative to soap and water

October 30, 2009
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NOTRE DAME, IN — Experiments by a microbiology class at Saint Mary''s College found that alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers are a sufficient hand hygiene substitute when soap and water are not available, according to WSBT-TV.
During the laboratory experiment, the class tested the effectiveness of alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers against bacteria and germs by placing the gel into a tube and adding two kinds of hard-to-kill bacteria, the story stated.
Doctor Kara Eberly, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Saint Mary''s College, said: "Within a minute everything is dead, that''s it. Alcohol kills everything very rapidly. [Manufacturers] put things in to make it stick to your hands, so it takes a little while to dry. It gives it a long enough time to kill microbes. It works, it really does."
The samples were analyzed to see if the alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer killed 99.9 percent of germs as promised — it did, the story noted.
According to the release, tests conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that some bargain brands, which generally dry out hands more quickly, may not protect as well as name brands because they have lower concentrations of alcohol.
Because all alcohol-based gel hand sanitizers are not created equal, it is important to read labels; Eberly suggests not purchasing a product with less than 50 percent alcohol, the story added.
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