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Hand Sanitiser Risks: Fact or Fiction

Over the past few weeks, we’ve spotted lots of articles about dangers relating to hand sanitiser use. To bust a few myths, we’ve taken a look at some of the most popular claims to see if they’re fact or fiction.

Hand sanitiser causes vehicle fires: Half-True  

While there is some truth in this claim, it’s not something you should be overly worried about.  

Research shows that hand sanitiser needs an ignition source to catch light. What that means is, while the alcohol may give off flammable vapours when heated, these would need to be exposed to a flame or spark to catch light. 

And while the vapours themselves could combust without a spark, the temperature inside the vehicle would have to exceed 350℃ to combust. 

While there appear to be cases where vehicles have exploded, there are often other factors involved, which may not be reported in the news stories. For instance, a cigarette lighter may have been used inside the vehicle, causing vapours to ignite. 

Top tip: If you’re planning to light a flame or work with electricity, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them. Not only does it reduce your risk of carrying coronavirus, but it also reduces the chance of alcohol vapours rising from your skin and catching light.   

Hand sanitiser is less effective when warm: Fact 

According to Dr Greg Boyce at Florida Gulf Coast University, hand sanitiser may be less effective when the temperature is raised 

Alcohol, the main sterilising ingredient in hand sanitiser, evaporates when warm. This may mean that the sanitiser has a lower alcohol content when applied to your hands, reducing its ability to kill any germs on your skin. He goes on to say, however, that it’s better to use this than not, because it will still have some effect.  

Hand sanitiser can cause skin irritation: Fact 

There’s a chance that it may aggravate your skin.  The alcohol strips moisture from the surface of the skin, which causes hands to feel dry or chapped.  

Our advice? 

Keep hand sanitiser in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Make sure you rub it into your skin for at least 20 seconds and avoid naked flames after using it. 

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