The list of dangerous hand sanitizers gets longer



FDA updates its findings

soap and water, handwashing, COVID-19, protection

Before the pandemic’s arrival, there was back-and-forth in some circles regarding the use of hand sanitizers. Then came quarantines and the stuff flew off stores’ shelves. Now, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns us that what had been seen as our saving grace may have inherent dangers.

The FDA released a warning based on a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol), but that have tested positive for contamination from methanol, or wood alcohol, a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and can be life-threatening when ingested.

“Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects,” the announcement notes, adding that investigation into hand sanitizer products is continuing.

“Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.

Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.”

Yikes! FDA is reminding everyone that washing one’s hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is best, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. Only use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also referred to as ethyl alcohol) if soap and water are not readily available.

In addition, the FDA warns against any hand sanitizers that say they are FDA-approved, since the agency doesn’t approve any of these products, or hand sanitizers that claim to stop the spread of any disease, or prolonged protections.

And again, NEVER drink the stuff.  




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