Once upon a time there were only a few brands of hand sanitizer on store shelves. The primary ingredient in hand sanitizer is alcohol. Most hand sanitizers contain anywhere from 60% to 95% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol mixed with water and gels like glycerol or glycerin to prevent the users skin from drying out.
Panic buying over the coronavirus pandemic has led to sanitizers flying off of the shelves. During the last week of February 2020 hand sanitizer sales were up by 300% over the same week in 2019. The following week sales shot up 470% compared to the first week of March in 2019.
The shortages of hand sanitizers opened up room on store shelves for many other new hand sanitizers to fill the void during the coronavirus pandemic by using other ingredients such as methanol or wood alcohol.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) recently identified 87 hand sanitizer products that contain dangerous levels of methanol which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The list continues to grow. As consumers are relying on sanitizers more due to covid-19. A majority of the products appear to have been manufactured in Mexico.
Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, and permanent damage to the nervous system or even death.
Many of the product labels claim to contain ethanol (ethyl alcohol) but have tested positive for methanol contamination. These products have been widely sold by national retailers such as BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco and Walmart.
The complete list of recalled hand sanitizers can be found on the FDA website https://bit.ly/2WZdZub .
The FDA advises consumers not to use these hand sanitizers.