The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced that nine hand sanitizers currently on the market potentially contained an unsafe alcoholic ingredient and should be avoided by consumers. Methanol, a type of wood alcohol, was found in sanitizing products produced by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, the FDA revealed in a press release; the substance, they said, “can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested.”
The FDA discovered the toxicity of the products while testing two brands of sanitizers produced by Eskbiochem: Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer and CleanCare No Germ, the latter of which is available with varying levels of alcohol. Lavar Gel was discovered to contain 81% methanol, and CleanCare contained 28% methanol. When the FDA reached out to Eskbiochem to remove their products from store on June 17, the company did not comply, allowing their products to remain available for purchase in a variety of locations.
FDA is now recommending that all consumers stop using Eskbiochem’s hand sanitizers as a result of their noncompliance, listing the following brands as potentially toxic: All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer, The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (under a different national drug code), CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (also under a different national drug code, and Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer as potentially dangerous. People who did use any of these brands are advised to seek immediate treatment and throw the product in the “appropriate hazardous waste containers.”
The ingredient in these hand sanitizers is causing wide spread speculation over potentially harmful effects. Methanol, according to the Center for Disease Control, is “a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source.” While the body can handle small amounts of it, usually found in fruits and vegetables and diet sodas containing aspartame, larger amounts can be dangerous to ingest. The CDC also explains that methanol entering the body through the skin, i.e. by way of hand sanitizer, equates to ingesting the poisonous alcohol orally.
The FDA goes on to explain that people should be cleaning their hands with soap and water to ensure that they are clean as often as possible. If hand sanitizers are going to be used, one with at least 60% ethanol is the most effective option. Popular hand sanitizer brands that fall into that category include Purell, Equal, and Highgate.