The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a recent urgent warning to consumers and health care providers about hand sanitizer products that are labeled as containing ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol (i.e., methyl alcohol or wood alcohol) is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested. As per the FDA news update hyperlinked below, “Methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects. FDA’s investigation of methanol in certain hand sanitizers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available.”
FDA updated the original list of more than 24 hand sanitizer products to avoid, now listing 75 such products to avoid on this FDA webpage; those products can be viewed either by clicking on the “Methanol Contaminated Products List” button at the top of the webpage or by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and then by clicking on any or all eight pages listing the 75 hand sanitizer products.
As with the original list of hand sanitizer products to avoid, all 75 products are potentially toxic when absorbed through the skin. Please see the FDA news update on hand sanitizers with methanol and the current list of hand sanitizer products to avoid for more detailed information. It is urgent that this information be sent to child care providers, parents, those who work in state child care licensing offices, child care professional development agency personnel, and others who can disseminate this information. In addition, everyone should check the linked FDA webpage on a regular basis to stay fully informed regarding this important health issue.
Consumers who have been exposed to a hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for the potential toxic effects of methanol poisoning, which can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, blurred vision, permanent blindness, and seizures. Although people of all ages are at risk for methanol poisoning, “young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute are most at risk.”