The FDA first warned about some of the methanol-containing hand sanitizers being sold in retail stores and online in June. The agency issued a further warning earlier this month about an increasing number of adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, and hospitalizations and death, primarily reported to poison control centers and state departments of health. The agency continues to see these figures rise.
“Practicing good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, is an important public health tool for all Americans to employ. Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “We remain extremely concerned about the potential serious risks of alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol.”
The agency has posted a do-not-use list of dangerous hand sanitizer products, which is being updated regularly. In most cases, methanol does not appear on the product label. However, methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in any drug, including hand sanitizer, even if methanol is listed as an ingredient on the product label. The FDA’s ongoing testing has found methanol contamination in hand sanitizer products ranging from 1% to 80%.
Importantly, the FDA is urging consumers not to use any hand sanitizer products from the particular manufacturers on the list even if the product or particular lot number are not listed since some manufacturers are recalling only certain – but not all – of their hand sanitizer products. Manufacturers’ failure to immediately recall all potentially affected products is placing consumers in danger of methanol poisoning.
Remember, hand sanitizers need to be rubbed in 20-30 seconds to be considered effective and must dry completely to be effective. And, although good in a pinch, scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds or more and then completely drying your hands is still the best cleansing option for your hands.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.