The Food and Drug Administration recently warned consumers that several types of hand sanitizer made in Mexico may contain methanol, which can be toxic

By Ally Mauch
June 27, 2020 11:30 AM
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Three people have died, three others are in critical condition and one is permanently blind after drinking hand sanitizer containing methanol, a toxic form of alcohol, the New Mexico Department of Health said Friday.

State health officials said that the cases were related to alcoholism, as hand sanitizer typically has a high alcohol content. The first case was reported to the New Mexico Poison Control Center in early May, while the others occurred after May 29.

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 headache, dizziness, blurred vision, kidney failure, coma, and death.

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 this is the largest number of methanol poisoning cases he has seen.

Warrick partly attributed it to the fact that, historically, methanol poisonings have occurred at times when alcohol is hard to come by. “Since hand sanitizer is hard to find in the COVID era, I suspect there is an association with COVID,” he said.

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The Food and Drug Administration recently warned consumers that several types of hand sanitizers made in Mexico may contain methanol, which can be toxic when applied to the skin or ingested.

On their website, 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 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.

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The FDA said they tested samples of the products Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ and found methanol.

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.

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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