Defective hand sanitizers have flooded the market, and some are more dangerous than others. As of August 12, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had recalled 149 products for 3 primary reasons:
- Some hand sanitizers were contaminated with methanol and contained up to 80% of the poisonous substance
- Certain hand sanitizers had “concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol”
- Other hand sanitizers were contaminated with 1-propanol, a toxic central nervous system depressant that is 2 to 4 times as potent as alcohol
Consumers should not use any hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list. That being said, some defects may put you or your loved ones at greater risk. The FDA has already reported at least one death associated with contaminated hand sanitizer.
Methanol is a colorless watery liquid used as an industrial pesticide and alternative fuel source. While methanol appears in small amounts in the human body, drinking or being exposed to methanol can lead to toxic effects.
People can experience methanol poisoning as a result of inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or eye contact. Symptoms typically appear in 1 to 72 hours and get worse as your body metabolizes the methanol.
Methanol poisoning can cause:
- Central nervous system depression
- Inability to coordinate muscle movement (ataxia)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heart and respiratory (cardiopulmonary) failure
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing your hands often during the COVID-19 crisis – with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. This is especially important after you go to the bathroom, cough, sneeze, blow your nose, or care for pets; and before you eat or prepare food.
If soap and water are not available, the CDC advises using hand sanitizer with at least 60% ethanol or ethyl alcohol.
Unfortunately, some hand sanitizers do not contain sufficient amounts of ethyl or isopropyl alcohol. If you use one of these hand sanitizers, you will not be eliminating the virus that causes COVID-19, nor many other germs.
As such, the FDA encourages consumers to stop using these subpotent hand sanitizers altogether.
1-Propanol Ingestion, Irritation, and Allergies
On August 12, 2020, the FDA expanded its guidance once again to include warnings about 1-propanol contamination. Certain hand sanitizer products, like those manufactured by Harmonic Nature S de RL de MI in Mexico, claim to contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but are contaminated with 1-propanol. This is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer and can be toxic and life-threatening if ingested.
If young children accidentally consume hand sanitizer with 1-propanol or adolescents and adults drink these products as an alcohol substitute, they may experience central nervous system depression and death. Other symptoms of 1-propanol exposure include confusion, decreased consciousness, and slowed pulse and breathing.
1-propanol is 2 to 4 times as strong as alcohol (ethanol) and can also result in irritation and allergic reactions if it comes in contact with the skin or eye.
If you have been exposed to 1-propanol, seek medical attention immediately.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured by Defective Hand Sanitizer?
The FDA urges anyone who has experienced the toxic effects of unsafe hand sanitizers to report their experience to its MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.
You may also be able to file suit against the hand sanitizer manufacturer to recover compensation for medical bills, missed wages, and other expenses.
If you have been harmed by defective hand sanitizer, The Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin may be able to help.