Hand sanitizer doesn't kill E.coli, 4th grade science project finds

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on April 20, 2010 at 2:21 PM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 20 at 5:57 PM

OLYMPIA, Wash. - It has become second nature: see hand sanitizer, pump hand sanitizer onto your hands.

Health officials have promoted the use of hand sanitizers to help fight outbreaks of diseases and germs, but experts say it doesn't work on everything. Now, an Olympia fourth grader says she can prove it doesn't work on E.coli.

Nine-year-old Celia Vernon won her class science fair at Roosevelt Elementary with an experiment involving a live sample of E.coli. Under the guidance of her father, a biologist with a background in microbiology, Vernon tested several solutions on E.coli, including Purell brand hand sanitizer.

In a side-by-side comparison with common bleach, the E.coli on the Purell side survived. On the bleach side, it died.

The Vernons say they have no bone to pick with Purell, but were surprised to learn it doesn't kill one of the main dangers associated with exposures from using bathrooms.

A spokesperson for the makers of Purell told KING 5 News that it stands by its claims to kill 99 percent of germs and suggested we contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC spokesperson says they have not studied hand sanitizers specifically on E.coli and recommend hand sanitizers only when soap and water are not available.

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