As coronavirus cases continue to rise across the country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an updated warning regarding "toxic" hand sanitizers you should avoid using. The problem? According to the federal agency, it has now identified 14 types of hand sanitizer that have tested positive for methanol, a substance that can have toxic effects when ingested or used on your skin.
In addition to nine hand sanitizers produced by the manufacturer Eskbiochem, the presence of methanol — a colorless liquid with a pungent odor that can be dangerous when absorbed through the skin — has been found in five more hand sanitizers that have since been added to the FDA's warning that was initially released in June.
"FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination," the agency wrote in an updated warning this week. "Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested."
As of July 6, the FDA is advising people to avoid using the following hand sanitizers:
- Groupo Insoma's Hand Sanitizer Gel unscented 70% alcohol
- Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV's Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free
- Soluciones Cosmeticas' Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution hand sanitizer
- Transliquid Technologies' Mystic Shield Protection Topical Solution
- Tropicosmeticos SA de CV's Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
These are in addition to the FDA's prior warning regarding the following hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC number: 74589-002-01)
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC number: 74589-007-01)
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC number: 74589-006-01)
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC number: 74589-010-10)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC number: 74589-005-03 and 74589-003-01)
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC number: 74589-009-01)
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC number: 74589-001-01)
Romper has reached out to the manufacturers of these hand sanitizers for comment regarding the FDA's warning.
Methanol has a weaker ability to kill viruses when compared to other alcohols and can be toxic, according to the Methanol Institute. If it is absorbed into the skin, it can cause adverse effects like blurry vision, mild dermatitis, and neurological damage, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If it is ingested or inhaled, it could further lead to symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and lack of consciousness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
There are no safe levels for methanol in hand sanitizer or disinfectants, according to the Methanol Institute. The CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol to stop the spread of germs and protect yourself from the coronavirus. But the CDC notes that not all hand sanitizers are effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy. Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the most effective way to stop the spread of germs, according to the CDC. But when this isn't possible, using a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol is recommended.
If you do have any of these "toxic" hand sanitizers, the FDA recommends that you stop using them immediately and dispose them in the appropriate hazardous waste container.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.