In the age of routine hand sanitizer use to protect against the novel coronavirus, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is urging consumers to be wary of at least 75 such products because they may contain a toxic chemical.
In a Friday announcement, the federal agency included additional hand sanitizers to its list of those that contain methanol, “a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.” Methanol is also sometimes referred to as wood alcohol, per the FDA.
“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 announcement states.
Some of the products on the FDA’s list have been recalled, while others are recommended for recall as they may also contain methanol. The products all appear to have been produced in Mexico, per the list.
Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested, the FDA said. (iStock)
“Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects,” the FDA warns. “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.”
Signs of methanol poisoning include nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, and can result in permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
“Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning,” the FDA said.
The news comes after the FDA first warned of toxic hand sanitizers in June, with the list at the time including nine products. At least 46 additional products were added earlier this month before more hand sanitizers joined the list on Friday.
You can find the FDA’s list of hand sanitizers to avoid here.