Meet the Latina Who Invented Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

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By Giselle Balido

March 20, 2020

More than 50 years ago, Lupe Hernández invented a product that revolutionized the world. In the wake of coronavirus, it has become today’s hottest commodity!

With the spread of coronavirus, sanitizing has become more than a choice; it is now a real necessity and the biggest commodity around (as the empty stores’ shelves attest). So please know that any time you dab a few drops of the now precious gel in your hands and feel a little safer for keeping those pesky germs at bay, you have to thank a Latina.

It happened in 1966, when Lupe Hernández, a nursing student from Bakersfield, California, realized that alcohol in gel form could be an effective way to sanitize when no soap and water were available. Inspired by this revelation, she called an invention hotline to find out the details of bringing her invention to fruition. And the rest, as they say, is “herstory.”

Originally Hernández, who was born in Argentina and raised in the Sun Valley, meant for her invention to be used in hospitals. But upon seeing its potential, commercial companies like Purell began producing it for the general public, and in 2002 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began recommending its use for the general population. However, it’s important to remember that hand sanitizer should be used when soap and water aren’t available. But it needs to contain at least 60 percent alcohol to work. Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is more effective.

“Even though we know alcohol kills the virus, it’s still more effective to wash your hands,” said James Scott, a professor at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the University of Toronto to Rolling Stone magazine. He stressed the need to wash your hands with soap and water before touching your face.

Speaking of sanitizers, another Latin powerhouse is putting its “granito de arena” to keep the world healthy and germ. Zara’s owner, Inditex, the Spanish apparel retailer based in Arteixo, Galicia, that specializes in fashion, accessories, shoes, perfumes and beauty products, has announced its own contribution to the cause. The company, which so far has donated 10,000 masks and hopes to donate another 300,000, is researching ways to manufacture hospital-grade gowns in its own factories. In the midst of a world pandemic, it is reassuring to know that everyone, from health authorities to major fashion companies are doing their best to keep the world healthy!

Image via Shutterstock

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CATEGORIES: Coronavirus | Latinos | Safety


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