If you want to purchase hand sanitizers to keep your hands clean and slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, avoid purchasing products that contain methanol, a type of wood alcohol that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.
In recent weeks, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has identified several products that contain methanol. According to a press release issued on June 19, nine hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV, were found to contain methanol.
According to the release, samples of the Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ were tested. The Lavar Gel product “contains 81% methanol and no ethyl alcohol,” while CleanCare No Germ “contains 28% methanol.”
In early July, the organization identified additional hand sanitizer products containing methanol:
- Grupo Insoma’s Hand Sanitizer Gel Unscented, 70% alcohol)
- Transliquid Technologies’ Mystic Shield Protection Hand Sanitizer
- Soluciones Cosmeticas’ Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free and Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution Hand Sanitizer
- Tropicosmeticos’ Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
By July 8, several dozen more products had been added to the list for either containing methanol or for being created in a facility where other contaminated products were made and have been recommended for recall. Some of those brands include:
- Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer
- KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer (labeled with Greenbrier International Inc.)
- MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E
- The Honeykeeper Hand Sanitizer
- Hello Kitty by Sanrio Hand Sanitizer
- Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer
- LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer
In total, there are currently 59 types of hand sanitizer listed on the FDA’s site.
“Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects,” said the release. “Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.”
On June 17, the FDA contacted Eskbiochem to recommend that the company remove its hand sanitizer products due to their methanol content, but that action has not yet occurred. A request for comment from the FDA was not returned at that time. Their release did not include information about where these products are currently sold.
The FDA warns that “substantial methanol exposure” can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or even death. Those who are most at risk for these symptoms, according to the FDA, are “young children who accidentally ingest these products” and “adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute.”
If you are using hand sanitizer, make sure to use a product that does not contain methanol and contains at least 60% ethanol. However, the FDA recommends that people wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as opposed to using hand sanitizer.