9 Hand Sanitizers the FDA Says Could Be Toxic
If you're stocking your house with these, it could be hazardous to your health.
Though the economy has taken a drastic dip overall due to the coronavirus pandemic, certain markets are seeing sales numbers skyrocket. For example, never before has hand sanitizer been such an in-demand product. And while you were likely used to buying certain brand names or at least seeing them stocked on drugstore shelves, that demand has led to consumers finding any replacement they can for their usual Purell bottle. You've likely heard that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using a hand sanitizer that's at least 60 percent (and preferably 70 percent) alcohol, but that's not the only part of the formula you should be concerned about. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there are hand sanitizers on the market that may actually be toxic. Fortunately, the agency has warned buyers exactly what to look out for.
As reported by Newsweek, the toxic ingredient is methanol, otherwise known as wood alcohol. "Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death," the FDA states on its website.
The agency cautions specifically that methanol may be found in hand sanitizers produced in Mexico by the manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV. The manufacturer produces several products for a handful of different brands. As a result, the FDA has advised consumers not to buy or use any of the following sanitizers:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
The FDA says while absorbing methanol into your skin is dangerous on its own, ingesting methanol is much more so. Having these items in your house should be especially concerning to parents with young children who could potentially put it in their mouths. The FDA further advises that anyone who has "been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol…seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning."
The alcohol found in approved hand sanitizers is ethyl alcohol, also called ethanol, which is safe when used as directed. When the FDA tested a sample of Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer, it found that the formula was 81 percent methanol. The product contained no ethyl alcohol at all.
According to the FDA, Eskbiochem SA de CV did not take action to remove the products from the market after the agency directed it to, which is why it's now putting this information in the hands of consumers. If you do have any of these products in your possession, the FDA says that you should "stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers." In addition, you should "not flush or pour these products down the drain."
Per the CDC and the FDA, properly formulated hand sanitizers should be used whenever a thorough hand washing with soap and water isn't readily available. But take care to make sure that you're not sacrificing your health for the convenience of that little bottle in your pocket. And for more on proper usage of hand sanitizer, here's how You Haven't Been Rubbing in Your Hand Sanitizer Correctly, CDC Says.