Hand sanitizer is a hot commodity these days as people take every precaution to ward off germs. Made from ethanol, which acts as a sanitizing agent, certain brands of sanitizer have been found to contain methanol, which is a toxic type of alcohol used to make fuel and antifreeze.
Methanol can cause toxicity if absorbed through the skin or ingested, which has led to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to recall the contaminated brands.
FDA concerns about contaminated hand sanitizer
Accidental ingestion is a major concern, for both contaminated and non-contaminated hand sanitizers. Ingestion of methanol can lead to drowsiness, headache, dizziness, and abdominal pain. More serious effects include blindness, coma, and permanent damage of the nervous system. However, even ingesting non-contaminated hand sanitizer can cause a dangerous level of intoxication.
While hand sanitizer is sometimes intentionally ingested due to its intoxicating effects, there is also a risk of accidental ingestion by children. This occurs when hand sanitizer is packaged in such a way that it appears to be a beverage, which can be misleading to young kids.
In addition to methanol contamination, the FDA is warning the public about other hand sanitizer risks. Some products may not contain a sufficient amount of sanitizing ingredients, which makes them ineffective. Some brands also include a label that claims the product is approved by the FDA, which is false information since the FDA does not currently approve hand sanitizers.
What to do if you have been exposed to a contaminated product
If you have experienced illness after using a hand sanitizer brand, it is recommended that you seek out immediate medical care. From there, you can file a report with the FDA describing the product and the illness you experienced. Provide as much detail as possible so the proper steps can be taken to recall the problem brand.