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Hand sanitizer alert: Toxic or dangerous ingredients found in 200+ products

Coronavirus has forced many of us to work together and try to reduce the spread of the disease. Social distancing and handwashing are at the front line of prevention, but sanitizing your hands regularly is just as important.

As the pandemic rages on, public health and safety have created a huge market for cleaning products and hand sanitizers. But not all are safe to use. Looking for cleaning products? Tap or click here to find out about fake Clorox and Lysol websites.

The growing demand has created an underbelly economy where companies produce the cheapest products that they can. And now, reports indicate hundreds of hand sanitizers contain toxic ingredients. Keep reading to find out which items to avoid.

Here’s the back story on the sanitizers

Cheaply made products often do not meet the recommended safety guidelines and will do more harm to you than good. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, recently flagged one such batch of hand sanitizers coming from Mexico.

Most sanitizers that kill coronavirus contain at least 70% ethyl alcohol. But after an investigation on the Mexican shipments, the FDA discovered that it tested positive for methanol contamination.

Here are some reasons it’s dangerous:

  • Methanol is a toxic substance.
  • Methanol, or “wood alcohol,” is made by hydrogenating carbon monoxide.
  • Methanol can be found in industrial products, like formaldehyde and fuel.
  • Methanol ingestion can cause permanent blindness.
  • Methanol can be absorbed through the skin.
  • Attacking the central nervous system can be fatal.

The FDA has now placed an import alert on over 200 hand sanitizers from Mexico, and other products will be subject to enhanced scrutiny. This is not the first time the FDA has warned about sanitizers coming from Mexico.

Toxic sanitizers have severe health implications

From April through December last year, 84% of the products sampled by the FDA did not meet its regulations. It also added that more than half of the samples were found to contain toxic ingredients, including methanol and/or 1-propanol, at dangerous levels.

“Methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers are a serious safety concern, and the FDA is aware of adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system and hospitalizations and death, primarily reported to poison control centers and state departments of health,” the FDA said in a press release.

Some of the dangerous products on the FDA’s list include:

  • Blumen Clear Advanced Hand Sanitizer
  • KLAR AND DANVER Instant Hand Sanitizer
  • MODESA Instant Hand Sanitizer Moisturizers and Vitamin E
  • Hello Kitty Hand Sanitizer (unofficial Sanrio product)
  • Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer
  • QualitaMed Hand Sanitizer
  • LumiSkin Advance Hand Sanitizer

The complete list of banned hand sanitizers can be found on the FDA’s advisory website here.

How to stay safe

The FDA released several guidelines so you can check if your sanitizer complies. It also advises people who have been exposed to contaminated hand sanitizers to contact their local poison control center.

  • Check if your sanitizer is on the FDA’s Do Not Use list
  • Check the label for a list of ingredients
  • Be aware of false or misleading claims on the packaging about COVID-19
  • Never ingest hand sanitizer
  • Use it only as directed on the packaging
  • Warn children and young adults about the dangers of ingesting hand sanitizer
  • Never put hand sanitizer on your pets

“Consumer use of hand sanitizers has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, especially when soap and water are not accessible, and the availability of poor-quality products with dangerous and unacceptable ingredients will not be tolerated,” said Judy McMeekin, Pharm.D., FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs.

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