Expect This Major Change to Your Hand Sanitizer This Week

There are new FDA guidelines about the product that's keeping you germ-free.

Throughout the course of the coronavirus pandemic, there's been one staple you've carried with you everywhere: your hand sanitizer. And you've probably been analyzing the back of the bottle to make sure it contains at least 70 percent alcohol, among other ingredients. But now, your hand sanitizer is about to undergo a major change. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced this week that it is changing its hand sanitizer standards, temporarily easing restrictions on impurities allowed in alcohol-based hand sanitizer in light of increased demand amid the coronavirus pandemic. This new announcement reverses the tightened restrictions the FDA announced in April.

"We are specifying interim levels of certain impurities that we have determined can be tolerated for a relatively short period of time," the FDA said on its website. "We believe that our temporary guidance sets the proper level of flexibility at the current time to help protect Americans during this public health emergency."

In the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic, there was no product harder to get than the one designed to keep your hands free of germs. As result, a number of spirits and liquor distilleries pivoted to private-label sanitizer products to fill the demand, and homemade sanitizer recipes popped up across the internet. The percentage of alcohol in sanitizer, however, is key for its efficacy, which led to the FDA's clarification and guidelines.

After regulators discovered some impurities, including cancer-causing acetaldehyde, in sanitizers, the FDA released its new guidelines designed to give clarity on impurity limits for "a slew of fuel ethanol companies that had switched to producing hand sanitizer during the outbreak," reports Reuters. The FDA guidance allows for up to 2 parts per million (ppm) of benzene and 50 ppm of acetaldehyde.

Hand sanitizer is a critical component to fighting the COVID-19 contagion, though good old-fashioned hand washing with soap is still considered the most effective prophylactic to avoid harmful pathogens. And for more tips on using hand sanitizer, check out This Is the One Reason Why Your Hand Sanitizer Isn't Working.

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