COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO — A new study finds that alcohol-based hand sanitizers can emit vapors that can disperse through the air and enter the mouth, causing breathalyzers to error out or even give a positive reading.
The findings were published last week in the Journal of Forensic Sciences.
Previous studies have found that hand sanitizers can affect readings on handheld devices, Gizmodo reported.
This study looked at evidential breath alcohol instruments in police stations.
Researchers first administered breathalyzers to 65 subjects in a controlled, ventilated room.
Then one of two operators used a golf ball-sized dollop of foam sanitizer or two pumps of liquid sanitizer and rubbed the solution into their skin until dry.
The operators then administered one more round of tests. Of the 130 tests, 13 gave a positive reading, even though the subject did not consume any alcohol. Another 41 tests caused the machine to error out.