Warning: Methanol in some hand sanitizer products

Posted at 4:45 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-07 10:46:27-04

If you are using hand sanitizer to help slow the spread of COVID-19, you will want to check the label. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it is seeing an increase in hand sanitizer products contaminated with potentially poisonous methanol.

The methanol can be life-threatening if ingested and toxic if absorbed through the skin. The agency says states have also reported cases of blindness, hospitalizations and deaths in adults and children after drinking hand sanitizer products tainted with methanol.

When using hand sanitizer, the FDA says to make sure the product contains ethanol, which is safe for topical use, not methanol. The FDA says some of the tainted products could still be in stores, although one brand has been recalled after the agency sent out a warning last month.

The FDA says young children who accidentally drink hand sanitizers, and adults who ingest it as a substitute for alcohol, are the most at risk for poisoning and should seek immediate medical attention. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is used in antifreeze and in fuel production. The CDC says methanol exposure can cause nausea, headaches, dizziness, agitation, amnesia, coma and seizures.