Posted, Thursday May 8, 2014 --- 6:15 p.m.
It's something you think of as healthy, killing germs and disinfecting. But police say it could be deadly, and Madison Police have taken it out of the City County Building.
"Alcoholics, people who abuse alcohol have found out that there's alcohol in it and chose to consume it to become intoxicated," says Lt. Dave McCaw
When touching public doors, elevator buttons, and railings, you can't help but want to de-germ on the way out, but more and more buildings are keeping their stash of Purell behind locked doors.
"It's a rock bottom situation where people who are doing this are truly at the bottom."
Lieutenant Dave McCaw says it's a big problem downtown, for people who can't afford booze.
"I think you could fairly say that daily we're dealing with someone who has been incapacitated by drinking or having medical issues because it's so thick and gooey."
He says, they're either cupping their hands and drinking from the dispenser, or stealing the entire gel packet to drink at their leisure. It's a free but dangerous way to get drunk.
"You can get a pretty big dose." Jeffery Lafferty with Public Health says there are two different kinds of alcohol, and drinking one without knowing, is like playing Russian Roulette.
"It could lead to kidney and liver damage, could lead to damage in your nervous system and brain, and it could be lethal."
He says hand sanitizer can be almost twice as strong as your typical vodka, in alcohol speak that's 120 proof on the low end.
"A lot of times because the concentration is so high you're ingesting a poisoning dose after you feel the effect you're going for."
And if that doesn't kill you, he says the other ingredients could.
"It's not just the alcohol that's in the sanitizer, you have fragrances and lots of other chemicals that can range from non-toxic to toxic."
Lieutenant McCaw says it's better to remove them and spare someone their life, than spare to spare someone a cold.
"It's just not meant for that i don't think anybody knows what long term is on any of these, it's sad to watch."
If you are concerned about alcohol based sanitizer in your home or business, there are other options like alcohol free sanitizer, just make sure to check the back of the bottle before you buy it.