FDA warns of more than 70 hand sanitizer products containing methanol

Can be deadly to ingest or absorb through skin
Posted at 5:01 AM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 05:02:07-04

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has once again expanded a warning about several hand sanitizer products that have been found to contain wood alcohol, which can potentially be deadly to ingest or absorb through the skin. There are now more than 70 products on the list that officials say you should not use.

The agency says there has been a sharp increase in products that claim to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but have tested positive for methanol, or wood alcohol.

Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening, according to the FDA.

Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death, the FDA says.

"Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects," the FDA wrote in their statement.

While anyone who puts methanol on their hands is at risk, officials say young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning.

The FDA says consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizers with methanol who are experiencing symptoms should seek treatment immediately.

The FDA says it is especially concerned with:

  • The dangers of drinking any hand sanitizer under any conditions. While hand sanitizers with possible methanol contamination are more life-threatening than those that are not contaminated, FDA urges consumers not to drink any of these products.
  • Certain hand sanitizers that may not contain a sufficient amount of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Hand sanitizers that are sold or offered for sale with false and misleading, unproven claims that they can prevent the spread of viruses such as COVID-19, including claims that they can provide prolonged protection (e.g., for up to 24-hours).
  • Products that are fraudulently marketed as “FDA-approved” since there are no hand sanitizers approved by FDA.
  • 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. Children are particularly at risk with these products since ingesting only a small amount of hand sanitizer may be lethal in a young child.

Click here for the full list.