Methanol can cause headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, kidney failure, coma and death

By Ally Mauch
July 07, 2020 11:41 AM
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The Food and Drug Administration has added to its list of hand sanitizers that may contain methanol, which can be toxic when applied to the skin or ingested.

In mid June, the FDA listed nine different hand sanitizer products all from the Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV that should not be used under any circumstances.

The original products include All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer, The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol, and Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer.

Last week, however, the administration released an additional five hand sanitizers to avoid, bringing the list’s total to 14. Grupo Insoma's Hand Sanitizer Gel Unscented, 70% alcohol), Transliquid Technologies' Mystic Shield Protection Hand Sanitizer, Soluciones Cosmeticas' Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance Free and Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution Hand Sanitizer and Tropicosmeticos' Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70% should all also be avoided, according to the July 2 update.

Woman applying hand sanitizer or soap
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, methanol can be absorbed in the body via inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or eye contact. If ingested, it can cause a range of issues, including headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, kidney failure, coma, and death.

The FDA urges any consumers that have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol to seek treatment immediately. They also recommend consumers immediately stop using the toxic hand sanitizer products and dispose of them in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Consumers should not flush or pour the products down the drain.

Late last month, health officials in New Mexico announced that three people in the state had died after drinking hand sanitizer containing methanol. Three others who drank the toxic substance were in critical condition and another was permanently blind, the Department of Health said at the time.

The cases were related to alcoholism, as hand sanitizer typically has a high alcohol content. Brandon Warrick, an assistant professor at the University of New Mexico who is certified in emergency medicine, medical toxicology, and addiction, told The New York Times that it was the largest number of methanol poisoning cases he has seen.

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Amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, health experts, including the CDC, have recommended sanitizing your hands by washing them with soap and water as the best way to avoid infection.

If soap and water are unavailable, the CDC has recommended using a hand sanitizer that’s made from at least 60 percent alcohol.

If done correctly, experts estimate that sanitizing your hands can reduce the rate of infection by respiratory illness infection by 16 to 21 percent.

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