By Garrett County Joint Information Center Team
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about hand sanitizer gel that may be dangerous because it contains large amounts of methanol, or wood alcohol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested.
The hand sanitizer is made in Mexico by several different manufacturers, and may be labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but has tested positive for methanol contamination. A list of dangerous contaminated brands can be found at fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol.
“Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning,” said a release from the FDA, “young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk.”
According to the FDA, methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. The FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing.
Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.
“Please check any hand sanitizer against the FDA list before you purchase it,” said Dr. Jennifer Corder, Deputy Health Officer for Garrett and Allegany Counties. “If you find one that is on the FDA list, don’t purchase it and call the Health Department at 301-334-7770 or 301-895-3111 to report where you saw the product. Also check any hand sanitizer you currently have to make sure it is not on the list.”
Anyone who has questions for the FDA regarding hand sanitizers should email COVID-19-Hand-Sanitizers@fda.hhs.gov.