Before you reach for that ever-present bottle of hand sanitizer in your bag to protect yourself from pandemic-related germs, take note. The FDA warns that some hand sanitizers might be toxic due to the presence of one very dangerous substance you probably haven't thought about since high school chemistry class.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning people about the potential presence of methanol — a colorless liquid with a pungent odor that is highly flammable and dangerous when humans and animals come in contact with it — in some hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico. Romper has reached out to Eskbiochem for comment and is currently waiting a response.
Eskbiochem manufactures the following hand sanitizers, according to the FDA:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
- Clean Care NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
- Clean Care NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
When the FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and Clean Care NoGerm, they found different levels of methanol in them. It's important to note that methanol cannot cure COVID-19, and can cause serious organ damage if it gets on your skin, is ingested or inhaled, according to the Methanol Institute. In fact, compared to other alcohols, methanol is less effective way at killing viruses.
If you have any of these hand sanitizers, the FDA is recommending that you stop using them immediately and properly dispose of them in an appropriate hazardous waste container.
If you are exposed to methanol by inhaling or ingesting it, you could experience problems with your vision, neurological damage, or mild dermatitis, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. These adverse effects from exposure might not become apparent until after an asymptomatic period of 1 to 72 hours, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If you have been exposed to hand sanitizer with methanol, then you should seek medical treatment immediately, according to the FDA. At this point, however, the FDA is not aware of any adverse events associated with the sanitizers produced by Eskbiochem.
The CDC recommends using an alcohol based hand sanitizer with greater than 60% ethanol or 70% isoproponal to protect yourself from germs like the coronavirus. The CDC first recommends washing your hands with soap and water, because hand washing reduces the amount of germs and chemicals on your hands. But if these are not available, then hand sanitizer can help.
As coronavirus cases in the United States continue to grow, according to the CDC, protecting yourself against the spread of germs is important. Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can help.