More than ever, hand sanitizer has become a must-have for millions of people. Businesses that formerly made other products, such as perfume or liquor, have begun producing their own versions. People have even taken to whipping it up at home. But how safe are these varied concoctions?
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some hand sanitizers currently on the market could be hazardous to your health.
Methanol In Hand Sanitizers
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that methanol is a colorless, watery liquid that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel source. It is a toxic alcohol that can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, ingestion, skin contact or eye contact. The FDA reports incidents of adults and children experiencing hospitalizations, blindness, and even death after ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol.
Methanol is also highly flammable and reacts violently with strong oxidants, causing an explosion hazard.
Because of these dangerous effects, methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers. The FDA has created and is updating an ongoing list of hand sanitizer products that claim to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) on their labels but have tested positive for methanol contamination.
Unsafe Hand Sanitizer Products
The FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products includes those that have been tested and found to contain methanol. It also includes those that are purportedly made at the same facility as contaminated products, as well as any that have been recalled by the manufacturer or distributor. Currently, there are 59 items on the list from 18 brands, but more products will be added as they are discovered.
The list currently includes the following names:
- Klar and Danver (Greenbrier International, Inc.)
- The Honeykeeper
- Hello Kitty by Sanrio
- bio aaa
- LumiSkin Advance
- Earths Amenities
- Agavespa Skincare
- Esk Biochem
- Lavar 70
- The Good Gel
- CleanCare NoGerm
- Grupo Insoma
You’ll want to check the full list to see if your specific product is on it.
The FDA reminds consumers that frequent handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the best way to kill germs. An alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% ethanol is the safest option when soap and water are unavailable.
Hand sanitizer should never be ingested. Parents should be wary of purchasing hand sanitizer products in containers that look like candy or beverages. Ingesting only a small amount of hand sanitizer may be lethal for a young child.
Seek immediate medical treatment if you or a family member should ingest any hand sanitizer or have been exposed to a hand sanitizer product containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms. These symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, blindness, seizures or coma.
Consumers and health professionals should report any adverse effects or products that contain methanol using the FDA’s MedWatch Online Voluntary Reporting Form.