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FDA warns 9 brands of hand sanitizer may be toxic

The FDA is warning that the public should stop using 9 brands of hand sanitizer because the products may contain methanol, or wood alcohol.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Close up view of woman person using small portable antibacterial hand sanitizer on hands.

WASHINGTON — The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in hand sanitizer purchases, but now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that nine brands may be potentially toxic. 

The FDA said Friday that consumers should stop using any hand sanitizer from Mexico-based manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV, due to the potential presence of methanol, or wood alcohol, in its products. The FDA warned that methanol can be toxic when ingested or absorbed through the skin. 

The agency said that it contacted Eskbiochem last week to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer from the U.S. market, but it has yet to do so. 

"Therefore, FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain," the agency warned

The FDA warned that young children who accidentally ingest these potentially toxic hand sanitizers and those who may drink it as an alcohol substitute are most at risk of suffering methanol poisoning. The symptoms of substantial methanol exposure includes nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. 

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"Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," the agency warned. "Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning."

The FDA listed the following products in its warning: 

- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)

- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)

- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)

- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)

- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)

- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)

- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)

- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)

- Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)

According to the FDA, it tested product samples and found Lavar Gel contained 81% methanol and CleanCare No Germ had 28% methanol. 

The agency said Friday it's not aware of any reports of illnesses related to these potentially toxic hand sanitizers. 

The FDA stressed that washing your hands with soap and water is one of the best defenses against coronavirus. But if soap and water isn't available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol.