FDA Warns About Contaminated Hand Sanitizers Causing Hospitalizations and Deaths

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The FDA warns about hand sanitizers causing blindness, hospitalizations, and death.

The Food and Drug Administration reported that adults and children across the U.S. have been blinded, hospitalized, and have faced death after drinking hand sanitizer that was contaminated with the toxic alcohol methanol, according to a report by Ars Technica.

The FDA identified five brands of hand sanitizer containing methanol, adding to nine others that were identified last month. All nine of the original brands were made by Mexican-based manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV. One of the nine reportedly had 81 percent methanol and no ethanol, which is a safe alcohol that is typically used in sanitizers.

The five newly added products include unscented hand sanitizer gel by Grupo Insoma, Mystic Shield Protection hand sanitizer by Transliquid Technologies, Fragrance Free Berish Hand Sanitizer Gel by Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV, Antiseptic Topical Solution hand sanitizer by Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV, and Britz Hand Sanitizer by Tropicosmetics SA de CV.

The risk is heightened for poisoning as many look to use hand sanitizer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methanol is poisonous if ingested, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin. It metabolizes into formaldehyde and then formic acid within the body, which can cause a buildup of acid in the bloodstream which can damage organs and tissues. It can specifically target the optic nerve, leading to blindness or visual impairment.

Adverse side effects include nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, blindness, seizures, coma, nervous system damage, or death.

“Although all persons using these products on their hands 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,” said the FDA’s warning.

At first, the FDA findings did not indicate that any adverse side effects associated with the contaminated sanitizers had taken place. However, in a warning that was updated on July 6, the FDA reported on instances of “adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations, and death.”

The FDA is now pushing for recalls of the affected brands. For now, they advise consumers to discontinue usage of the products, seek medical care if necessary, and dispose of the products in the appropriate hazardous waste containers.

Read the full report here.

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