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Wood Alcohol aka Methanol Is in Some Hand Sanitizer

Millions of people are shopping online for essential products. That includes hand sanitizer. But the FDA says some products are contaminated with methanol.

Have you been using hand sanitizer when you are out and about? When you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, hand sanitizer is the next best thing, especially when it is used for at least 30 seconds.

Hand sanitizer generally contains ethanol. It is the exact same kind of alcohol that is found in vodka, gin or other alcoholic beverages. It differs slightly from isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol. Both, however, kill bacteria and viruses quite well. 

Do Not Drink Hand Sanitizer!

You cannot drink isopropyl alcohol! And you should NEVER EVER drink methanol (also known as wood alcohol). Sadly, methanol is in some hand sanitizers. You should check brands to be safe. Of course not all hand sanitizers are contaminated. Most are just fine. But how would you know which hand sanitizers contain ethanol and which might have ethanol?

The FDA on Hand Sanitizers:

Here is what the FDA has to say about alcohol-based hand sanitizer (June 1, 2020)

“Washing our hands with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds, continues to be one of our best defenses to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If soap and water are not readily available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol (also referred to as ethanol or ethyl alcohol).”

The FDA Says Methanol is in Some Hand Sanitizer

Sadly, some manufacturers have been adding methanol or wood alcohol to their hand sanitizers. Methanol can be absorbed through the skin and can be quite toxic.

The FDA is warning consumers to avoid such products and has provided a list of more than 50 on its website (July 2, 2020)

“FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen 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. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.”

“The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death.”

Here is a link if you would like to find out whether your hand sanitizer might be on the problem list:

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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