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FDA Warns About Hand Sanitizers With Methanol

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested

hand sanitizer

MONDAY, July 6, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- A warning about hand sanitizer products that contain methanol (wood alcohol), a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze, has been issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin and life-threatening when ingested, and it is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizer products, according to the FDA. The agency said it has seen an increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol. Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or death.

State officials have reported recent harm among adults and children who ingested hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol, including blindness, hospitalization, and death, the FDA said. Consumers who have hand sanitizers with methanol should immediately stop using them and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of it as recommended by their local waste management and recycling center. There is a list of FDA-tested and recalled hand sanitizers on the agency's website.

"All Americans should practice good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available," FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, M.D., said in an agency news release. "Unfortunately, there are some companies taking advantage of the increased usage of hand sanitizer during the coronavirus pandemic and putting lives at risk by selling products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients. Consumers and health care providers should not use methanol-containing hand sanitizers."

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