Hand sanitizer demand has skyrocketed during the Coronavirus pandemic. Health advisors have advised American consumers to wash our hands often with soap and water to limit the spread of COVID-19. If soap and water are not available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends we use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
The high demand for hand sanitizer, along with shortages of standard brands “have sparked a rush of new brands onto the market.”(WashingtonPost.com) Some of these new brands, already on store shelves are questionable. “Unfortunately, there are some companies taking advantage of the increased usage of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk by selling products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn in a statement on July 2.(NBCNews.com)
In June, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first warned consumers that some hand sanitizers tested positive for methanol (wood alcohol) contamination. The FDA warned consumers to stop using these products, since methanol is a potentially fatal ingredient. “Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects.”(USAToday.com)
What is Methanol?
According to the CDC, methanol is “used industrially as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel source.”
Methanol is toxic if absorbed through the skin.(CNN.com) It can be life-threatening when ingested.
Exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, agitation, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, amnesia, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system and death.
The FDA says if you have been exposed to hand sanitizer that contains methanol and are experiencing any of the above symptoms, please seek immediate treatment “for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.”(FDA.gov)
The FDA is also keeping an eye out for other quality issues with hand sanitizers such as:
- Not containing a sufficient amount of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol.
- False, misleading, unproven claims that a hand sanitizer can prevent the spread of COVID-19.
- Products claiming “FDA-approved”; no hand sanitizers are approved by the FDA.
- Products that are packaged to look like drinks, candy, or liquor bottles, since their appearance could result in, or encourage accidental ingestion. Ingesting only a small amount of hand sanitizer can be lethal in a young child.
For more information, and to find out which hand sanitizers have been recalled, please go to FDA.gov.
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