Lethal Hand Sanitizers Continue to be Recalled
Since June 19, 2020, the FDA has been issuing recalls and warnings for contaminated and lethal hand sanitizers that have contained methanol, 1-propanol, and other impurities. If consumed, these additional chemicals can be extremely harmful and even deadly. As Coronavirus continues to be a looming threat, companies that do not typically make hand sanitizer have been producing hand sanitizer and other products to assist the United States facing shortages of essential items. On top of that, companies that traditionally make hand sanitizer have been trying to overcome the shortages for months, while also facing the common struggles that comes with COVID-19: new safety protocols and sick workers. Because of these factors, numerous hand sanitizers have been recalled for containing methanol, a wood alcohol that can be poisonous, or 1-propanol, an alcohol similar to methanol but 2-4 times as deadly. Using hand sanitizer that contains methanol or 1-propanol may result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, such as permanent blindness, or death. While those that use the contaminated hand sanitizers topically are at risk, those who ingest the product, such as children who accidentally consume it or people who intentionally consume the hand sanitizer in place of alcohol, are at increased risk for methanol or 1-propanol poisoning. There have been four reported deaths due to the consumption of hand sanitizer that contained methanol.
Hand sanitizer has also been packaged in food and drink containers, including beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles and vodka bottles. Multiple incidents have been reported to the FDA of people confusing hand sanitizer products for water or other drinks. FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D, warns against the potential danger of children consuming hand sanitizer due to misleading packaging and and appetizing smells, stating that, “It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” which can be potentially lethal. While the FDA continues their investigation into contaminated and misleading hand sanitizer products, recalls are still being made weekly for hand sanitizers containing methanol and 1-propanol. The full list of recalled products can be found here.