hand sanitizer

Is Your Hand Sanitizer Helping or Hurting Your Family?

The FDA has expanded its list of hand sanitizers consumers should avoid

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You may have noticed stores are starting to restock their shelves with hand sanitizers, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found the market has been flooded with products contaminated by the toxic chemical, methanol.

The FDA has expanded its list of hand sanitizers consumers should avoid. The FDA warned consumers that 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."

To see the FDA’s full list click here.

The products were labeled to contain ethanol, but tested positive for methanol contamination. Methanol is often found in things like antifreeze and windshield washer fluid.

"They found that certain brands of the hand sanitizers made in Mexico were actually formulated with methanol and that can be a very dangerous ingredient when absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream it can cause nausea vomiting dizziness and in severe cases, seizures and sudden death, so this is something we absolutely don't want to be putting on our skin," said cosmetic dermatologist, Dr. Dendy Engelman.

Dr. Engelman said while it may be difficult to find the sanitizer brands we know and trust, there are ways you can vet the ingredients in the products your family uses.

"So I encourage everyone to look at labels and know what you're putting on your skin, and all of the hand sanitizers that we have will say what the percentage, what the active ingredient is -- so, for example, ethyl alcohol 70%, that is the amount that we want for that ingredient, another one is isopropyl alcohol -- we want a minimum of 60% with those," said Dr. Engelman.

Many distilleries are changing their format and making hand sanitizers now. But you should still check the label.

“For ethanol, you want at least 60% and that's what alcohol is that we drink. you just want to make sure the percentage is the right amount to make sure that we're disinfecting all the potentially harmful bacteria that can make us ill," said Dr. Engelman.

The FDA said consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical to reverse any possible toxic effects of methanol poisoning.

*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.

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