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Beware of Contaminated Hand Sanitizers

At Least 58 Products May Contain Methanol and Be Toxic to Humans //

In June 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered methanol (wood alcohol) in hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico. Samples of certain products contained up to 81% methanol and no ethyl alcohol. Since this time, the FDA has listed more than 50 products that may contain methanol and issued a warning about “a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination.”

What Is Methanol?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

Methanol is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source.”

When ingested or absorbed through the hands, methanol can be toxic or life-threatening. The FDA is already aware of contaminated hand sanitizer products causing blindness, hospitalizations, and death among adults and children who ingested them. The agency is especially concerned with products packaged to appear as drinks, candy, or liquor bottles, as well as those marketed as drinks or cocktails.

Young children who accidentally ingest methanol products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol substitute are most at risk for methanol poisoning

Symptoms of Methanol Poisoning

Symptoms of methanol poisoning can appear within 1 to 72 hours of exposure.

Signs and symptoms of methanol poisoning include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Eye irritation, redness, and pain
  • Drowsiness
  • Central nervous system depression
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Ataxia (poor coordination)
  • Cardiopulmonary (heart and respiratory) failure
  • Seizure
  • Blindness
  • Death

Methanol toxicity gets worse over time, so you should seek treatment as soon as you notice these signs and symptoms. If you know you have been exposed to methanol, seek treatment immediately, even if you do not have symptoms. Methanol poisoning worsens over time, as the amount of acid in your blood increases when you metabolize the substance.

If you or your child has ingested methanol, please call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 or visit PoisonHelp.org.

Reminders From the FDA

In addition to warning consumers about the dangers of methanol poisoning and providing a list of recalled products, the FDA took time to remind them to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing your nose. The FDA acknowledges that its warnings come at a time when hand sanitizers are in heavy demand and emphasizes the CDC’s advice to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol (ethyl alcohol) when soap and water are unavailable.

Further, the FDA urges consumers not to drink any hand sanitizer under any conditions.

What To Do After an Adverse Event

The FDA remains vigilant and committed to taking action when quality issues arise with hand sanitizers. If you have experienced an adverse event, the FDA encourages you to report the problem to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program.

If you have been harmed by a contaminated hand sanitizer or another defective product, you may also be entitled to compensation.

Once you have received the proper medical attention, please contact Lauri J. Goldstein & Associates, PLLC to discuss your case.

We are available 24/7 at (866) 675-4427 and online, and we encourage you to schedule your free consultation today.

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