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FDA issues warning to Americans about certain hand sanitizers after finding toxic chemicals

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The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to American consumers that some hand sanitizer products made by a Mexico-based company contain toxic chemicals.

The FDA notes that nine products manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV, which are currently still on the market, have been found to contain methanol, which can be poisonous and even lethal if absorbed via the skin or ingested.

“FDA advises consumers not to use any hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem due to the potential presence of methanol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested,” the agency wrote in a tweet Friday, along with a link to a consumer advisory.

According to the advisory, the following sanitizing products have been flagged as potentially dangerous:

  • 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)

“FDA tested samples of Lavar Gel and CleanCare No Germ. Lavar Gel contains 81 percent (v/v) methanol and no ethyl alcohol, and CleanCare No Germ contains 28 percent (v/v) methanol. Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects,” the agency warned.

FDA officials are advising consumers who’ve been exposed to any hand sanitizers containing methanol to immediately seek out medical treatment in order to potentially reverse the toxic effects of the poison, which can be lethal.

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

While adults who use the products to sanitize their hands as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, young children who ingest the products accidentally or teens who drink the products as an alcohol or ethanol substitute “are most at risk for methanol poisoning.”

The agency said officials contacted officials at Eskbiochem on June 17, informing the company that it must remove its products from the market as they have been found to be tainted.

“To date, the company has not taken action to remove these potentially dangerous products from the market. Therefore, FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitizers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain,” the agency’s advisory said.

The agency adds that individuals should wash their hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before eating, after sneezing/coughing, and after using the restroom.

If soap and water are not available, the agency advises using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent ethanol, per Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

“FDA remains vigilant and will continue to take action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers,” the advisory states.

“Additionally, the agency is concerned with false and misleading claims for hand sanitizers, for example that they can provide prolonged protection such as 24-hours against viruses including COVID-19, since there is no evidence to support these claims.”

Jon Dougherty

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