The Rise of Toxic Hand Sanitizers

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a huge demand for hand sanitizer, so the FDA relaxed manufacturing regulations to accommodate the supply needs. This grew 1,500 new businesses to the PPE industry. Unfortunately the lack of regulation has given rise to alcohol-based hand sanitizers with methanol, which the FDA first warned about in June 2020. The FDA has a list of toxic hand sanitizers, which is growing. This week (8/12/2020) the FDA expanded the hand sanitizer warning to include 1-propanol contamination. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reported a 59% increase in hand sanitizer cases this year. Toxic hand sanitizers include brands sold at Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club. The FDA list of toxic hand sanitizers with methanol are identified as nine brands made in Mexico. The FDA found 1-propanol contamination for four products made in Mexico. A recall has been recommended. 

Our liquid hand sanitizer is made with food-grade ethanol, water, and small amounts of hydrogen peroxide and glycerol. While there is a cloud of confusion and doubt on hand sanitizers today, there is a much safer alternative to alcohol-based sanitizers that is being used all over the world to combat SARS & COVID-19 for at least a couple of years. Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) is considered the most effective known biocide and is non-toxic, eco-friendly, and inexpensive to produce.

Methanol

Those using hand sanitizers with methanol topically are at risk for methanol poisoning. Those who ingest hand sanitizers with methanol run a life-threatening risk. Exposure to methanol can result in nausea to vomiting, headaches, and even blindness, seizures, comas, and death. Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer with methanol are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. Here is the American Association of Poison Control’s website: https://aapcc.org/centers

1-propanol

On 8/12/220 the FDA expanded their hand sanitizer warning to include 1-propanol. 1-propanol is not to be confused with 2-propanol (isopropanol). The FDA states that 1-propanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer products marketed in the United States as it can be toxic and life threatening when ingested. Those most at risk are young children who might accidentally ingest and adolescents and adults who would purposely ingest as a substitute for alcohol. 1-propanol has a depressive effect on the central nervous system, which is similar to ethanol in alcoholic drinks, but the 1-propanol is two to four times more powerful. Symptoms of 1-propanol poisoning include confusion, slowed breathing that can lead to death.

Keeping Safe

Anyone exposed to hand sanitizer with methanol and/or 1-propanol and experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical attention. The FDA encourages us to report related issues to their MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program:

  • Report online

  • Submit form and fax at 1-800-FDA-0178

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