The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory for consumers regarding methanol-based hand sanitizers. According to the CDC Health Alert Network, hand sanitizers manufactured by a company based in Mexico could include methanol, also called “wood alcohol,” an ingredient that can be toxic if absorbed through the skin and can be life-threatening if ingested.
Hand washing and hygiene are an important part of the COVID-19 response and is used to help prevent community spread. Commercially available products usually contain either ethanol or isopropanol; however, some products have been found to contain a significant amount of methanol. Clinical effects of methanol poisoning include headaches, blurred vision, nausea, abdominal pain, loss of coordination or decreased alertness. If untreated, methanol poisoning can result in blindness or be fatal.
If experiencing any of the above symptoms from repeated use of methanol-based hand sanitizer, those affected should seek immediate medical attention or contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 for medical advice. Remember that these products are not intended for human consumption and can lead to serious health issues. Only use alcohol-based hand sanitizers (or rubs) for their intended purpose – to clean hands. Keep out of the reach of children and supervise the use of these products.
The FDA has been working with manufacturers and distributors of methanol-based hand sanitizers on a voluntary recall and advises consumers to not use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico. It is futher recommended that these products be disposed of immediately. Products manufactured by this company include “All Clean” hand sanitizer,” “Esk Biochem” hand sanitizer, “CleanCare No Germ Advanced” hand sanitizer, “Lavar 70 Gel” hand sanitizer, “The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel” hand sanitizer, “CleanCare NoGerm Advanced” hand sanitizer, and “Saniderm Advanced” hand sanitizer.
The FDA offers a reminder to wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol.
Those who would like more information on the recall should check their hand sanitizer products against the “FDA’s Testing and Manufacturer’s Recall List” on the FDA website at www.fda.gov.