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9 brands of hand sanitizer may be toxic, FDA warns

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U.S. consumers should not use any of nine brands of possibly toxic hand sanitizer that may contain methanol, or wood alcohol, a substance that's potentially dangerous when absorbed through the skin or ingested, the Food and Drug Administration warned. 

The agency's alert comes at a time when hand sanitizers are in especially heavy demand due to the coronavirus pandemic that has public health officials urging consumers to frequently wash their hands. 

In issuing its warning Friday, the FDA said the Mexico-based manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV had rebuffed its request that it remove the "potentially dangerous products" from the U.S. market. Agency tests found samples of one product, Lavar Gel, contained 81% methanol and those of CleanCare No Germ contained 28%. 

Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects, the FDA stated. The agency urged consumers to stop using the products, which should be immediately discarded in hazardous waste containers. 

"Do not flush or pour these products down the drain," the agency's announcement stressed. 

The FDA is not aware of any reports of adverse effects from using the products, it added. Still, consumers exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical in potentially reversing the toxic effects of methanol poisoning, according to the FDA. 

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

Young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink them as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk for methanol poisoning, the FDA said.

The FDA listed the following products in its warning: 

  • All-Clean Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-002-01)
  • Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-007-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-008-04)
  • Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-006-01)
  • The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-010-10)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-005-03)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-009-01)
  • CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol (NDC: 74589-003-01)
  • Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer (NDC: 74589-001-01)
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