FDA: Toxic hand sanitizer problem is getting worse

Chris Burns - Jul 29, 2020, 11:22 am CDT
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FDA: Toxic hand sanitizer problem is getting worse

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released another warning for consumers to beware of certain hand sanitizers in the summer of 2020. Several sorts of hand sanitizer available to consumers in the USA right this minute work with methanol, or wood alcohol. A variety of hand sanitizers released in the recent (and distant) past here in the USA contain methanol, were marked as such, but were sold to consumers nonetheless.

Per the FDA’s latest update on the subject, “Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.” The FDA warns that part of the issue is methanol exposure through the skin, but ingesting the product is just… the worst.

“Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk.”

This March (2020), the FDA took drastic steps to get hand sanitizers on store shelves and in the hands of citizens of the USA again, after the first rush for COVID-19. In June (2020) the FDA started warning the public that certain hand sanitizers contained methanol, and should not be sold in stores or used by humans.

This is a new sort of situation

This situation is odd, as a product tested by the FDA in the past is still sold in stores today, marked with the FDA’s test results, but does not seem to constitute enough of an issue for stores to pull the product from store shelves – or, more likely: online store shelves.

We’re in a transition phase, right now, where inside the USA, the FDA now says that no hand sanitizers containing methanol can legally be sold in stores to consumers… but not all brands and/or store owners have gotten the message.

“We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D.. “Producing, importing and distributing toxic hand sanitizers poses a serious threat to the public and will not be tolerated. The FDA will take additional action as necessary and will continue to provide the latest information on this issue for the health and safety of consumers.”

How to know which hand sanitizers are bad

One company, Eskbiochem S.A. de C.V., has gone so far as to incorrectly claim that their products have been FDA approved, where in reality they’re manufactured in facilities with undeclared methanol and/or made with “improper manufacturing practices.”

The full Methanol hand sanitizer list at the FDA has every known hand sanitizer that’s been tested by the FDA and found to contain methanol. Some of these products have been recalled, others have been recommended for recall by the FDA.

OF NOTE: The FDA noted that consumers that find products against which they’ve warned should AVOID pouring said hand sanitizers down their sink. Users should avoid mixing these sanitizers with other liquids, and should bring said sanitizer bottles to local waste management and recycling centers.


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