As states across the country enter their respective reopening phases, businesses are working to open their doors in a manner that is safe for both customers and employees. A key resource needed for a safe environment is proper sanitizers for cleaning frequently-touched surfaces and hand sanitizers placed in common areas like building entrances, rest rooms and elevators. These sanitizing products have been in high demand with supply being low since the beginning of the pandemic. This has led to many companies that do not normally specialize in making these products (such as distilleries and breweries) to begin manufacturing hand sanitizers to support the community. While many of these companies have done an excellent job in providing critical resource in a time of need, others have fallen short of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidelines. The FDA has issued a warning to consumers about products that are labeled to contain ethanol, a safe sanitizing agent, but actually contain significant amounts of methanol. Methanol can be toxic when ingested, injected or absorbed the skin. Methanol exposure can result in symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, nervous system damage and even death.
The FDA has identified several products from the manufacturer Eskbiochem SA da CV, including:
- All-Clean Hand Sanitizer
- Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol
- CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol
- Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer
- The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer
- Sandierm Advanced Hand Sanitizer
These products contain methanol and can be harmful when used on the skin. However, they are even more dangerous when ingested. This poses a greater threat to young children who may accidentally swallow sanitizers and adolescents who may consume it in place of traditional alcohol.
The shortage of hand sanitizers has also led to many consumers making homemade sanitizers. Homemade hand sanitizers are not recommended by the FDA and can be ineffective as well as cause burns.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that consumers wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing is especially important when in public areas, after using the rest room, before eating, after coughing/sneezing or blowing one’s nose. If washing with soap and water is not possible, alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol can be used as an alternative.
It is important that your organization reviews the sanitizers purchased during the pandemic to determine if it is one of the defective products. If so, you should discontinue the use of this produce immediately.