The FDA and Hand Sanitizers

hand sanitizer

With COVID19 greatly causing health scares across the globe, the demand for hand sanitizers and sanitizing products has increased. As production increases to meet the needs, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has seen hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol.

Methanol also known as wood alcohol is a type of alcohol used to create solvents and fuels. Methanol is a colorless liquid, with an odor similar to that of ethanol.

It is flammable and toxic when ingested or absorbed through the skin. Adverse effects of methanol include hospitalizations, blindness, and sometimes even death, thus, making it an unacceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers.

The Food and Drug Administration is currently conducting investigations on certain hand sanitizer products with methanol. This is to prevent consumers from buying these brands; to prevent toxic effects.

Consumers and hand sanitizer users that have been exposed to contaminated methanol products and are experiencing nausea, headache, vomiting, and blurred vision. It is then imperative for you to seek immediate medical care or treatment for the reversal of methanol toxic effects. 

Seeking speedy treatment can prevent serious effects such as blindness, coma, seizure, and damage to the nervous system. Consumers and users exposed to methanol are at risk, but children and adults who accidentally ingest the product are more at risk.

The FDA remains vigilant for hand sanitizing products containing methanol and any quality issues. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not only concerned about products contaminated with methanol but other concerns like:

  • Hand sanitizing products not containing a sufficient amount of isopropyl alcohol or ethyl alcohol.
  • Hand sanitizer products marketed as “FDA approved” when there are no hand sanitizers approved by the agency.
  • Sanitizing products containing misleading information and claims that products contain the spread of COVID19 and other diseases.
  • Sanitizing products packaged to appear like miniature drinks or enticing enough for children to think this can be consumed, or for them to accidentally drink or ingest these products. Ingesting even a small portion of hand sanitizer can be deadly for children.
  • Hand sanitizing products with or without methanol must be placed beyond a child’s reach. Consumers must not drink any of these products.

While the need to constantly clean and sanitize our hands is necessary especially because of COVID19, it is advisable to read the back label of the product before purchasing it. It is recommended to use alcohol-based sanitizers with at least 70% ethanol or ethyl alcohol.

In the absence of hand sanitizers with 70% ethanol, stick to the basic hand washing. Wash your hands at least 20 seconds with clean water and soap. Do these often even while at home especially before and after eating, after using the bathroom, after coughing, sneezing, or even after blowing your nose.

Hand washing is also recommended before and after cooking, playing with or feeding pets, after a diaper change, handling garbage, before and after dressing a wound, and when your hands look dirty.


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