The Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning regarding hand sanitizers containing methanol. Methanol is toxic and can be absorbed into the body when applied to the skin. A list of hand sanitizer products known to contain methanol is posted on the FDA website. The list was started in June and has been updated, most recently on July 2, 2020.
The FDA warns that methanol poisoning may cause “nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death”.
There are currently 59 products on the FDA list. None of the product labels state that they contain methanol, but have been tested and found to contain harmful amounts of the substance. Instead, the product labels indicate ethanol (aka ethyl alcohol) is the active ingredient. At least some of the products have been recalled and consumers are warned not to use the products, but dispose of them immediately.
The CDC website states that, “Methanol [commonly known as carbinol, methyl alcohol, and wood alcohol] is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source. It also occurs naturally in humans, animals, and plants. Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, fermented beverages, and diet soft drinks containing aspartame are the primary sources of methanol in the human body. Most methanol poisonings occur as a result of drinking beverages contaminated with methanol or from drinking methanol-containing products”.
PSA#1: In other words, most methanol poisonings occur when people drink products containing methanol in an effort to become intoxicated. Don’t drink it.
PSA#2: Methanol is not to be confused with menthol. Menthol is a cooling, soothing balm for sore throats and congestion that helps make you feel better. Methanol is an industrial chemical that will make you feel worse.
Question of the Night: Frequent use of hand sanitizer can dry out your skin… what brand(s) of hand moisturizing cream do you like and recommend?