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Coronavirus

Hand sanitizer recall: Another toxic ingredient found in dozens of brands

It’s been more than five months since the COVID-19 pandemic became official. In the days leading up to shutdowns across the country, products like face masks, toilet paper and hand sanitizer were flying off store shelves.

Even before the coronavirus hit, the latter was already the perfect companion for daily activities. When a sink with soap isn’t available, a little bit of hand sanitizer can kill harmful bacteria and germs. Tap or click here to see Kim’s favorite choice for hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizers work as well as they do because of the powerful alcohols they contain. But now, many brands are being recalled and blacklisted by the FDA for containing highly toxic alcohol that can cause debilitating effects like blindness and even death. If you have any of these sanitizers in your home or car, throw them away immediately.

FDA expands its hand sanitizer warning

A couple weeks ago we told you about a warning from the FDA to avoid hand sanitizers that include the toxic chemical methanol. At the time, we published a list of just under 100 products to avoid. (Note: You can see the original list of products to avoid in the next section.)

Now the FDA has expanded that list adding products that are labeled to contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but have tested positive for 1-propanol contamination.

“1-propanol, not to be confused with 2-propanol/isopropanol/isopropyl alcohol, is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer products marketed in the United States and can be toxic and life-threatening when ingested,” the FDA says.

The agency is urging consumers not to use these 1-propanol-contaminated products and has expanded its list to nearly 160. You can see the entire list of hand sanitizers to avoid and the FDA update here.

Keep reading to see the original list and find out why methanol is just so dangerous.

Methanol: Not even once

Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a member of the same chemical family as isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) and ethanol (the kind of alcohol you can drink). Due to a slightly different chemical structure, however, methanol is highly reactive to tissue. Inside the body, it’s metabolized into formaldehyde — the same chemical used to embalm dead bodies.

This can lead to a variety of awful effects on the body such as nausea, vomiting, headache, visual disturbances, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, nerve damage and death.

Worst of all, you don’t even have to ingest the sanitizer to be affected by methanol poisoning. If you use hand sanitizer frequently that happens to contain methanol, the compound can be absorbed through the skin. This doesn’t lead to dramatic effects right away, but the compound is highly toxic and should be avoided at all costs.

The FDA has put out a new alert on the matter and has updated its list of toxic hand sanitizer brands to reflect the latest findings.

Does my hand sanitizer contain methanol? What brands should I throw out?

As of now, the FDA is not sure how these methanol containing sanitizers were able to reach store shelves. This risk factor is also under investigation. In the meantime, it’s provided a list of known affected products for consumers to check their homes for below.

If you had to throw out your bottles and are now empty-handed, don’t worry. With the help of this trusty website, you can see when supplies are in stock for multiple brands of methanol-free sanitizer. Tap or click here to check it out.

If you used hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, the FDA recommends seeking immediate medical treatment. You can also send details about any adverse effects to the FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Again, if you want to see the entire updated list from the FDA you can check it out here.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have regarding a medical condition, advice, or health objectives.

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