Since mid-July, the Upstate New York Poison Center has received 49 calls regarding the recently recalled dangerous hand sanitizers. Overall calls for information about hand sanitizers and for ingestions or exposures has more than doubled.
The Food and Drug Administration has been adding to the list of hand sanitizers recalled because they are contaminated with methanol. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a toxic substance that isn’t approved to use in hand sanitizers.
Most hand sanitizers are made with ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol. Ethanol is dangerous if ingested, but it is safe when used as directed for keeping hands clean from germs.
Methanol, however, is not an acceptable ingredient for any hand sanitizer. Methanol is often used in pesticides, paint thinner, and antifreeze. It can be toxic if it’s absorbed through the skin and deadly if ingested. Exposure to methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, and permanent damage to the nervous system.
“Unfortunately, with these products, there is no way for consumers to tell if the product contains methanol,” says Gail Banach, director of public education and communications at the Upstate New York Poison Center, “Methanol is not approved for use in hand sanitizers, so it will not be listed on the ingredient panel, even if it is inside, so we recommend everyone check the list from the FDA.”
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