Toxic, Deadly Hand Sanitizers Recalled
Misleading and mislabeled products have caused blindness, hospitalizations and death
The Food & Drug Administration has recalled dozens of hand sanitizers because they contain a toxic ingredient that is not listed on the product labels.
The products—77 and counting—are said to contain ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, an active ingredient for hand sanitizers recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with isopropanol. But in tests these products were found to contain methanol, also known as wood alcohol, which “is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested,” the FDA says.
“The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death,” the FDA says in a statement.
“Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning,” according to the statement. “Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.”
In one set of cases involving seven people who ingested the offending products—something nobody should do—“significant blood methanol concentrations were detected in all patients,” the CDC reported earlier this month. “Four died, one critically ill patient recovered with loss of vision, and outcomes are pending on the remaining two critically ill patients.”
Health experts, including the CDC, say properly washing with soap and water is the best way to rid hands of the coronavirus and other germs. Properly formulated hand-sanitizers are better than nothing, they say, but are not as effective as regular hand washing.
The FDA also warns against any hand sanitizer billed as “FDA-approved,” since the agency does not offer such approvals.
The list of recalls, first announced in June, has been updated multiple times this month. The recalled products include the following brand names and many more: All-Clean; Esk Biochem; Lavar 70; CleanCare; Keep It Clean; Bersih; Britz.