The CDC Just Issued This Deadly New Warning About Hand Sanitizer
People are dying from doing this with their hand sanitizer, the CDC warns.
By now, you are certainly aware that wearing masks, social distancing, and thorough hand-washing are key ways to slow the spread of COVID-19. But when you're not close to a sink and some soap, hand sanitizer is also an effective tool to stay safe and avoid the coronavirus. However, the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention (CDC) just released a new report, warning that people are using their hand sanitizer in a deadly way. According to the new report, people are getting sick—and even dying—after drinking hand sanitizer. Now, the CDC is warning everyone that "alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested."
That may seem obvious to some but, according to the new CDC report, in May and June, there were 15 cases of alcohol poisoning "associated with swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment."
And it's one specific kind of alcohol-based hand sanitizer that's causing these problems, the CDC notes. Hand sanitizers should only contain ethanol or isopropanol. (To be exact, according to the CDC, your hand sanitizer should contain at least 60 percent ethanol or at least 70 percent isopropanol.) However, in the past month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that over 100 specific hand sanitizers available in U.S. are labeled as containing ethanol but are actually found to contain methanol, a toxic chemical that can poison people through their skin or even cause death if ingested. "Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects," the FDA said in a statement.
All 15 patients cited in the CDC report had methanol poisoning. "This investigation highlights the serious adverse health events, including death, that can occur after ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizer products containing methanol," the report states.
Exposure to hand sanitizer that includes methanol can result in "nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death," according to the FDA.
The CDC adds that "survivors of methanol poisoning might have permanent visual impairment, including complete vision loss."
Some of the toxic hand sanitizers the FDA is warning against include products made by Blumen, Assured, and LumiSkin, as well as the Hello Kitty hand sanitizer by Sanrio. The products listed thus far appear to have been manufactured in Mexico, but have reached other countries through online sites like Amazon.
A CDC spokesperson further explained the warning to CNN, saying: "We wanted to specifically look at adverse events related to methanol because it is known to be toxic and potentially life-threatening when ingested."
Following the FDA's lead, the CDC also notes in their report that "health departments in all states should coordinate with poison centers to identify cases of methanol poisoning." And for more on hand sanitizers, check out You Haven't Been Rubbing in Your Hand Sanitizer Correctly, CDC Says.