Hand sanitizers containing methanol, or wood alcohol, present a danger to individuals as the substance can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or life-threatening if ingested, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Agency issued an alert to warn consumers and healthcare providers that methanol, which is used to create fuel and antifreeze, has been identified in certain hand sanitizers that are labeled to only contain ethanol. Recent reports of blindness, hospitalizations and death following tainted hand sanitizer ingestion by both adults and children highlight the potential dangers.
Signs and symptoms of methanol exposure may include nausea, vomiting, headache and blurred vision. Serious adverse effects may include permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent nervous system damage and death.
To promote public awareness of the problem, the FDA has created a website listing recalled hand sanitizer products. According to the Agency, use of these products should be immediately discontinued and bottles should be disposed of using a hazardous waste container. The recalled products should not be poured down the drain or mixed with other liquids.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, MD. “Consumers and healthcare providers should not use methanol-containing hand sanitizers.”
The FDA will continue to update its list of recalled hand sanitizers as more products are discovered. In the meantime, consumers and healthcare providers are urged to report adverse events related to hand sanitizers to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.
For more information visit fda.gov.