Thursday, June 25, 2020 by Zoey Sky
As coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to infect people throughout the globe, health experts advise the public to practice social distancing and wash their hands thoroughly using soap and water to help prevent further infections.
To maintain proper hygiene, people often use antibacterial hand sanitizers in the absence of soap and water. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that hand sanitizers from a certain manufacturer in Mexico should be avoided at all costs because they contain methanol, a toxic chemical.
The FDA cautioned consumers to avoid buying nine kinds of hand sanitizers from Eskbiochem SA de CV, a manufacturer based in Mexico, because they may be toxic.
Testing has revealed that the nine products all contain varying amounts of methanol, a type of alcohol that can be poisonous once it is absorbed through the skin or ingested. (Related: Coronavirus fears continue to spark panic buying of isopropyl alcohol and hand sanitizer across the USA.)
On June 19, the FDA published a letter warning against the use of Eskbiochem hand sanitizers, stating that methanol “is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.”
The federal agency warned that anyone who has been exposed to methanol-based hand sanitizers must seek medical treatment as soon as possible to address the toxic effects of methanol poisoning.
The FDA’s findings revealed that the CleanCare No Germ line contained 28 percent methanol. Eskbiochem’s Lavar Gel contained a shocking 81 percent of the toxic chemical.
The letter included a list of the nine toxic products from Eskbiochem:
The FDA concluded that anyone who uses Eskbiochem’s hand sanitizers is at risk of methanol poisoning, particularly small children who may accidentally ingest the products and adults who attempt to drink the products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute.
Methanol, also called methyl alcohol, wood alcohol or carbinol, is a colorless, watery liquid with a strong odor. The chemical occurs naturally in humans, animals and plants.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that methanol is also manufactured as a solvent, pesticide and alternative fuel source.
Methanol can be toxic when ingested, inhaled in high concentrations or absorbed through the skin, like when someone uses methanol-based hand sanitizers. According to the CDC, methanol is toxic because of its metabolic products that cause an accumulation of acid in the blood, or metabolic acidosis.
Initial symptoms of methanol poisoning include:
The toxicity of methanol increases the longer it’s in your body, highlighting the importance of early medical treatment. Unfortunately, the signs of methanol poisoning may not be apparent for at least 72 hours after exposure.
According to the FDA, exposure to these methanol-based hand sanitizers may cause side effects like:
Using methanol-based hand sanitizers can also cause coma or even death.
Methanol poisonings are rare, but in 2013, over 1,700 cases were reported in America.
According to the FDA, it advised Eskbiochem to recall its hand sanitizer products off shelves on June 17. But as of June 22, the company has yet to take action regarding the matter.
Below are some tips from the World Health Organization (WHO) on maintaining proper hygiene and protecting yourself from COVID-19.
The FDA recommends washing your hand thoroughly with soap and warm or hot water for at least 20 seconds to protect yourself from coronavirus.
If you don’t have access to soap and running water, the CDC suggests using hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent ethanol. Unlike methanol, the WHO considers ethanol safe to use for hand hygiene.
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