Is Your Hand Sanitizer Contaminated? FDA Issues Warning

This month, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an update to consumers about the rising risk of methanol contamination in certain hand sanitizer products.

The FDA provided a running list of 75 products to avoid using. The agency found they either contain methanol or are made in the same facility as products containing methanol.

According to the FDA, methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and deadly if ingested. The regulatory agency received reports of incidents where adults and children ingested methanol contaminated hand sanitizer, leading to “blindness, hospitalizations, and death.”

Substantial exposure to methanol can cause “nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.” Consumers with these symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible to limit the toxic effects of methanol.

The products listed by the FDA are manufactured in Mexico by 4E Global, AAA Cosmetica, DDI Multinacional, and Eskbiochem, but may be packaged by other distributors. Consumers should check the label of any hand sanitizer product to ensure it is methanol free and does not come from any of these manufacturers.

The FDA is additionally concerned with products that do not contain enough ethyl or isopropyl alcohol, which may lead consumers to believe the hand sanitizer is more effective than it is. Another concern is products that are misleading and fraudulent, such as ones labeled “FDA Approved” as the FDA does not approve any hand sanitizer product.

Similarly, products that come in the shape of drinks could result in accidental ingestion, and the health regulatory body does not recommend them.

Still, the FDA said that consumers should use soap and water as a best practice to prevent sickness. If that method is unavailable, the regulatory agency recommends alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

Forbes reports that the U.S. is the largest market for hand hygiene products, with sales growing 73 percent in March. One survey found that 77 percent of the U.S. population uses hand sanitizer. The rise in demand, widespread use, and health concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic make it imperative that consumers know the possible dangers of methanol contaminated sanitizers and choose safe and effective options.  

Consumers can report adverse effects related to sanitizers to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online here, or download this form and fax to 1-800-FDA-0178.

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