Alcohol sanitisers are one more stress for teachers and early learning professionals

 

Teachers care. Being a teacher is hard work during the best of times, rewarded when their students grow. Helping students succeed through the COVID-19 pandemic has been hard: online learning and managing then social distancing when students are back in class. The strain in early learning professionals is particularly hard, with three-quarters of them intending to leave the sector within three yearsi.

Increased hand hygiene due to the COVID-19 crisis has led to an increased incidence of hand eczema in health workersii and the general populationiii. Managing alcohol-based hand sanitisers can be a significant added stress for our teachers. Classroom management of alcohol is a distraction at best and can even become a nightmare if things go wrong.

For younger children, managing alcohol-based sanitisers in the classroom can involve avoiding eye contact. The French Poison Control Center found a sevenfold increase in kids getting hand sanitiser in their eyesiv. Monthly reports of hand sanitiser exposure reported to the 55 US Poison Control Centers is 59% higher than before the COVID-19 pandemic in 2019v. Most exposure cases reported were in children younger than six.

In a pre-pandemic studyvi, older children (aged 6–12 years) were more likely to report intentionally ingesting hand sanitiser suggesting they might be deliberately misusing or abusing alcohol. They also had more serious health effects. The authors of that study, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended increased teacher supervision while using alcohol hand sanitiser, especially for older children who might be abusing these products during the school year. The Irish National Poisons Information Centre is blunter: sending a child to school with alcohol-based hand sanitiser amounts to “sending a child to school with a naggin of vodka”vii. In Ireland, a 200mL bottle of liquor is called a “naggin”.

Together with fire code warningsviii, it is little wonder that some schools have given up on alcohol-based hand sanitisers for students altogether. But for teachers frequently applying these sanitisers the issue of increased hand eczema or drying out remains.

Until now, switching to a hand sanitiser that doesn’t contain alcohol has generally meant using one where the active ingredient is benzalkonium chloride, a known irritant and novel allergen itselfix. The European Union banned benzalkonium chloride from soaps, bodywashes and food preparation areas in 2016x.

About Doxall™ sanitisers

Recent joint US-Australian science, stemming from a decade of research into antimicrobial resistance, has resulted in a new sanitiser range that is neither alcohol- nor benzalkonium chloride-based. The water-based Doxall™ range is made up of two common components of everyday foods: the fatty acid capric acid and the amino acid L-arginine, a building block of proteins. Capric Acid is also made by the skin as part of the bodies natural defences. Capric Acid is also a part of breast milk. 

It may seem strange that a small concentration of two foods that might be purchased at a health food shop as nutritional supplements can act as a powerful sanitiser. But the antimicrobial actions of fatty acids have been known for many yearsxi. It has been using them and getting them to targets that has been harder (for example, capric acid is solid at room temperature). The patented science in the Doxall™ rangexii relates to the combination with L-arginine to make the capric acid available in water. The resulting product feels nurturing and smooth on the hands.

Both capric acidxiii and L-argininexiv are common in oils your body uses to protect itself, so there is little concern for adverse effects on skin. As a water-based product, Doxall™ is not flammable. In other words, the stress associated with managing alcohol sanitisers are gone, teachers have one less thing to worry about and can get on with what they do best.

Written by Dr Tony Peacock PhD1

1The author is Chairman of Ten Carbon Chemistry Pty Ltd, which markets the Doxall™ range of sanitisers.

 

i United Workers Union Exhausted-undervalued-and-leaving.pdf (bigsteps.org.au)

ii Guertler, A, Moellhoff, N, Schenck, TL, et al. Onset of occupational hand eczema among healthcare workers during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic: Comparing a single surgical site with a COVID-19 intensive care unit. Contact Dermatitis. 2020; 83: 108– 114. https://doi.org/10.1111/cod.13618

iii Mehak Singh, Manoj Pawar, Atul Bothra, Nishant Choudhary, Overzealous hand hygiene during the COVID 19 pandemic causing an increased incidence of hand eczema among general population, Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2020 83: e37-e41, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaad.2020.04.047.

iv Letzer, R. Hand sanitizer is causing an epidemic of chemical burns to children's eyes. LiveScience 2021 Hand sanitizer is causing an epidemic of chemical burns to children's eyes | Live Science

v American Association of Poison Control Centers - Hand Sanitizer (aapcc.org) 2021. In the USA, you can reach your local poison control center by calling the Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222. In Australia, the Poisons Information Centre is on 131 126.

vi Santos C, Kieszak S, Wang A, Law R, Schier J, Wolkin A. Reported Adverse Health Effects in Children from Ingestion of Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitizers — United States, 2011–2014. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2017;66:223–226. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6608a5

vii Donnelly, K. Independent.ie 2020, Don't send kids to school with alcohol-based hand sanitiser, parents urged - Independent.ie (accessed 15 August 2021)

viii Australian Institute of Health and Safety, 2020 Safety alert issued over alcohol-based hand sanitiser fire hazards | Australian Institute of Health & Safety (aihs.org.au) (accessed 15 August 2021).

ix Wentworth AB, Yiannias JA, Davis MD, Killian JM. Benzalkonium Chloride: A Known Irritant and Novel Allergen. Dermatitis. 2016 Jan-Feb;27(1):14-20. doi: 10.1097/DER.0000000000000160. PMID: 26756511.

x COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING DECISION (EU) 2016/ 1950 - of 4 November 2016 - on the non-approval of certain biocidal active substances pursuant to Regulation (EU) No 528 / 2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council (europa.eu) (accessed 15 August 2021).

xiClark,J.R. 1899. On the toxic effect of deleterious agents on the germination and development of certain filamentous fungi. Botan.Gaz.28:289-327.

xii US Patent Application for THERAPEUTIC COMPOSITIONS OF CAPRIC ACID AND ARGININE Patent Application (Application #20200282067 issued September 10, 2020) - Justia Patents Search (accessed 15 August 2021)

xiii M.M. Delgado-Povedano, M. Calderón-Santiago, M.D. Luque de Castro, F. Priego-Capote, 2018, Metabolomics analysis of human sweat collected after moderate exercise, Talanta, 177: 47-65, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.talanta.2017.09.028.

xiv Stanley W. Hier, Theodore Cornbleet, Olaf Bergeim, 1946. THE AMINO ACIDS OF HUMAN SWEAT, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 166,:327-333, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0021-9258(17)35010-X.

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