The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded the list of hand sanitizers that it has issued a consumer warning about to 59 products. The agency is warning consumers about using the hand sanitizer because they may contain methanol – a wood alcohol – that can be life-threatening.
The hand sanitizers originate from Mexico and have methanol as their active ingredient but are labeled as containing ethanol. The FDA does not recommend the use of methanol in hand sanitizer due to its toxic effects.
Methanol is used in the production of some fuel types and as an industrial solvent as well as for the manufacture of formaldehyde and acetic acid to create products such as windshield washer fluid, resins, and adhesives, according to Methanex’s, one of the world’s largest producers and suppliers of methanol, website.
The hand sanitizers also may be fraudulently marked as FDA-approved, but to date, the agency has not approved any hand sanitizers for use, regardless of their origin.
Methanol poisoning can lead to a range of life-threatening symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or even death.
If ingested accidentally by children, or for its alcohol content by adults, it can present risky symptoms and complications. The FDA urges consumers not to drink hand sanitizer, especially if they are contained in packages that are designed to look like drinks, candy, or liquor bottles.
The full list of hand sanitizers the FDA has warned consumers about can be found here.
The FDA has issued recalls for some of the hand sanitizers that were found to contain methanol. Some of the products are being sold at Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club, CBS News reported.
In a statement, the FDA said, “ 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.”
Hand sanitizer has become a high demand product as consumers are urged to keep their hands clean to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds consumers to wash their hands or use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethanol alcohol.
The agency urges consumers that have purchased any hand sanitizers that have been found to contain methanol to stop using it immediately. The hand sanitizer should be disposed of in hazardous waste containers. It should not be flushed or poured down the drain.