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The FDA’s list of toxic hand sanitizers hits 75

The agency claims that some widely available brands may contain lethal levels of methanol

Photo (c) Helin Loik-Tomson - Getty Images
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released an update about hand sanitizers that may be fatal to those who use them. The agency now lists the total number of banned products at 75. 

The reason? Simple... those products contain dangerous and potentially fatal levels of methanol (aka wood alcohol) -- the same ingredient found in windshield wiper cleanser and anti-freeze.

New additions to the toxicity list

Following up on earlier warnings to consumers, the new additions include two more hand sanitizers produced in Mexico:

  • Optimus Instant Hand Sanitizer

  • Hand Sanitizer Disinfectant Gel

The recalls on those hand sanitizers extend to large scale retailers like Walmart, as well as other national retailers. 

Forewarned is forearmed

The FDA is reminding consumers of three important things related to hand sanitizers:

  1. Methanol is particularly problematic as an ingredient because when absorbed through the skin, it can produce toxic effects such as blindness. Much worse, if ingested, it can prove lethal, as it did recently in New Mexico.

  2. Many of the products that contain methanol are mislabeled, which could mislead consumers into thinking that the products are safe.

  3. The best way people can prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting sick is by washing their hands with regular soap and water. 

“There is currently no evidence that consumer antiseptic wash products (also known as antibacterial soaps) are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water,” the FDA advises. “In fact, some data suggests that antibacterial ingredients could do more harm than good in the long-term and more research is needed.”

Lastly, if you haven’t taken the FDA’s hand sanitizer quiz, now might be a good time to see how well-versed you really are on the subject. You can find it here.

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