FDA Warns Against 59 Potentially Toxic Hand Sanitizers
The list of problematic hand sanitizer brands increased sharply from nine on June 19 to 59 on July 2.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dramatically increased the number of potentially toxic hand sanitizers consumers need to avoid.
The agency first took action on June 19, 2020, when it advised consumers to avoid nine products manufactured by Mexico-based Eskbiochem SA de CV due to the risk of methanol contamination. Further warnings followed on June 29 about another product by that manufacturer, hand sanitizer packaged in one-liter bottles from Saniderm Products for the same reason.
That was just the beginning. In less than two weeks the list of problematic products increased more than sixfold, to 59 by July 2.
The active ingredient in safe and effective hand sanitizer is ethanol (i.e., ethyl alcohol), not methanol (i.e., ‘wood alcohol’), which can be toxic to humans if absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA says it has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products labeled to contain ethanol but testing positive for methanol contamination. Learn some other reasons you need to be careful when using hand sanitizer.
The FDA also warns consumers that substantial exposure to methanol can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
The full list of potentially harmful hand sanitizers
At the time of publication, the list of hand sanitizer brands to avoid include:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
- Andy’s Best
- Antiseptic Alcohol 70% Topical Solution hand sanitizer
- Assured Aloe
- Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Aloe and Moisturizers)
- Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer (Vitamin E and Aloe)
- Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe and Moisturizers
- Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer Vitamin E and Aloe
- Bersih Hand Sanitizer Gel Fragrance-Free
- bio aaa Advance Hand Sanitizer
- BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer
- BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe
- Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Aloe, with 70% alcohol
- BLUMEN Advanced Hand Sanitizer Clear
- Blumen Advanced Hand Sanitizer Lavender, with 70% alcohol
- BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear
- Blumen Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Clear Ethyl Alcohol 70%
- BLUMEN Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
- BLUMEN Aloe Advanced Hand Sanitizer, with 70% Alcohol
- Blumen Antibacterial Fresh Citrus Hand Sanitizer
- BLUMEN Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer
- Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer with 70% Alcohol
- BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer
- BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe
- BLUMEN Clear Advanced Instant Hand Sanitizer Lavender
- BLUMEN Clear LEAR Advanced Hand Sanitizer
- Blumen Hand Sanitizer Fresh Citrus
- BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Aloe Vera
- BLUMEN Instant Hand Sanitizer Fragrance Free
- Britz Hand Sanitizer Ethyl Alcohol 70%
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- DAESI hand sanitizer
- Earths Amenities Instant Unscented Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera Advanced
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
- Hand sanitizer (labeled with Wet Look Janitorial and Gardening Corp.)
- Hand Sanitizer Agavespa Skincare
- Hand sanitizer Gel Unscented 70% Alcohol
- Hello Kitty by Sanrio Hand Sanitizer
- KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer (labeled with Greenbrier International Inc.)
- KLAR and DANVER INSTANT HAND SANTIZER
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
- LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 16 oz
- LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer 4 oz
- MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E
- Mystic Shield Protection hand sanitizer
- Optimus Lubricants Instant Hand Sanitizer
- Plus Advanced
- QualitaMed Hand Sanitizer
- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
- Selecto Hand Sanitizer
- Shine and Clean Hand Sanitizer
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
- The Honeykeeper Hand Sanitizer
- Vidanos Easy Cleaning Rentals Hand Sanitizer Agavespa Skincare
FDA guidelines for safe hand sanitizer use
The FDA “remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers.” The agency urges consumers to follow these guidelines for safe use of hand sanitizer:
- Never drink hand sanitizer under any conditions;
- Avoid hand sanitizers that do not contain at least 60 percent ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol;
- Avoid hand sanitizers that claim to prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19 and those that claim to provide prolonged protection (e.g., for up to 24-hours);
- Avoid any hand sanitizer that is fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved” (no hand sanitizers are approved by FDA);
- Avoid products packaged to appear as drinks, candy, or liquor bottles, as well as products marketed as drinks or cocktails because their appearance could result in accidental ingestion or encourage ingestion.
How to handle hand sanitizer issues
Those who have been exposed to potentially toxic hand sanitizer and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for methanol poisoning. The FDA also encourages health care professionals, consumers, and patients to report adverse events or hand sanitizer quality issues to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.
Government health organizations remind consumers to frequently wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose. You can prevent these 15 diseases just by washing your hands.
For more on this developing situation, including how life might be different post-lockdown, see our comprehensive Coronavirus Guide.