FDA warns of dangerous types of hand sanitizers


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – One of our mainstays in fighting COVID-19 could be dangerous to your health – we’re talking about hand sanitizer.

The FDA is warning that some brands are being made with the wrong kind of alcohol, an alcohol that could seriously injure or kill you.

Hand sanitizer is something we now use dozens of times a day, as Raleigh resident Nancy Wiggins told CBS 17.

“It’s very important, just to keep away the germs,” she said. “With everything going on, I just want to keep everyone healthy and happy.”

When the pandemic exploded, one of the things that went into short supply very quickly was hand sanitizer.

With empty shelves everywhere, lots of people started making their own, and companies that did not normally make sanitizer started producing it.

From distilleries, to do-it-yourself sanitizer, all of those substitutes are made with ethyl or isopropyl alcohol – two compounds that are safe.

But, the shortage of sanitizer also saw new brands emerge, many which the agency says are produced in Mexico.

The FDA says there are 75 brands that it has listed as contaminated with methanol.

Menthol is a wood alcohol which is used in antifreeze and fuel production. It is toxic to humans.

One of those brands the FDA has listed is “Born Basic.”

The sanitizer claims on its label it’s made of 70 percent ethyl alcohol but the FDA says it is contaminated with methanol.

The CDC says methanol exposure can cause:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Amnesia
  • Coma and seizures

The FDA says methanol can be absorbed through the skin is especially toxic to young children.

The agency also says it has reports of people ingesting methanol-laced hand sanitizer which has caused blindness, hospitalization and death.

To help you determine if a hand sanitizing product is safe, the FDA has a list of all the banned hand sanitizers.

The list includes a search function allowing you to put in the name of the brand you are checking to see if it’s one of the dangerous products.

If you’ve used one of the contaminated sanitizers and you’re experiencing symptoms of methanol poisoning—you need to seek medical attention to see if the toxic effects can be reversed.

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