FDA Warns Consumers About Contaminated Hand Sanitizers
July 21, 2020
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been seeing a surge in contaminated hand sanitizers. Most of the contaminated units claim to contain ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), but they have tested positive for methanol, or wood alcohol. Methanol is a toxic substance that can cause serious and deadly complications when absorbed through the skin.
Why is Methanol Hazardous?
Methanol is most commonly used to create solvents, fuel, and antifreeze. Not only is methanol toxic when absorbed through the skin, but also it is extremely flammable. FDA health and safety guidelines disallow methanol as an active ingredient in hand sanitizers because of the numerous dangers it poses to consumers. Recently, there have been several reports of children and adults who used methanol-based hand sanitizers, leading to hospitalization, blindness, and in some cases, even death.
Methanol is toxic to people because of how it breaks down into other compounds (e.g. formaldehyde, formate, and formic acid) inside the body. Exposure to methanol produces symptoms and effects similar to an infection or exposure to other dangerous chemicals, such as:
- Decreased level of consciousness
- Poor or no coordination
- Blurred vision or permanent blindness
- Kidney failure
- Organ damage
If someone is showing signs of methanol exposure, early medical intervention is key. Doctors may treat patients with an antidote and in some cases, victims of methanol poisoning may require dialysis treatments. If someone you know is experiencing signs of methanol toxicity, call 9-1-1.
While lots of people have been using hand sanitizers to promote good hygiene practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using them only when soap and water are not readily available. If you are going to use hand sanitizer, make sure that it is alcohol-based and contains at least 60% ethanol, or ethyl alcohol.
So far, the FDA has identified at least 17 different hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol. To view the agency’s complete list, visit https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol. The agency is also concerned that some hand sanitizer products have labels containing false or misleading information (such as claims of being able to stop the spread of COVID-19) or are packaged in such a way (e.g. packaged similarly to candy or drinks) that children are more likely to accidentally ingest them. Because of these concerns, the agency will continue to oversee the safety of these products.
Contaminated Products Cause Injuries
Despite the fact that manufacturers are required to produce and sell safe products, every year thousands of consumers become victims to dangerous marketing tactics and preventable injuries. In some cases, this results from manufacturers putting profits over people and failing to prioritize the health and safety of consumers. If you experienced methanol poisoning because of exposure to contaminated hand sanitizer, you may want to consider filing a products liability claim. To find out more about filing a claim, contact a representative who can help online now.
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