How to Avoid Potentially Dangerous Products: FDA Updates on Hand Sanitizer


While COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the United States, consumers feel the added pressures to take any/all preventative measures. According to health experts, one of the most effective preventative measures to practice is washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of twenty seconds. With so many of us commuting to work, going to the grocery store, or taking care of families, twenty seconds at the sink is sometimes impossible. If you’re on the go and need a quick sanitation method, hand sanitizer is an effective way to quickly clean your hands.

How to Determine Safe Products

All alcohol-based hand sanitizers typically contain some combination of isopropyl alcohol, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), or n-propanol. Hand sanitizer brands that contain 60% to 95% alcohol are considered to be the most effective in killing virus germs. In order to prevent the drying of the skin, compounds such as glycerol may be added to hand sanitizer. Also, in order to differentiate between brands, some hand sanitizers contain fragrances; however, these are discouraged due to the risk of allergic reactions. If a hand sanitizer contains a combination of the ingredients listed above, then it should be safe to use. 

Hand Sanitizer Warnings

With the increase in demand for hand sanitizer products during the COVID-19 pandemic, an additional 1,500 companies are responsible for producing the product. Because of the huge increase in production, some faulty products have slipped through the cracks and are being sold in the United States market. The FDA is warning consumers and health professionals about certain hand sanitizers, specifically products “manufactured by Harmonic Nature S de RL de MI in Mexico, that are labeled to contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but have tested positive for 1-propanol contamination. 1-propanol, not to be confused with 2-propanol/ isopropanol/ isopropyl alcohol, is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer products marketed in the United States and can be toxic and life-threatening when ingested.” Additionally, the FDA has found that certain hand sanitizer products 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.

People who are most at risk of the health risks associated with 1-propanol and Methanol are young children who accidentally ingest these products and adults who consume hand sanitizer products as an alcohol substitute. When ingested, the FDA states that 1-propanol can “cause central nervous system (CNS) depression, which can result in death. Symptoms of 1-propanol exposure can include confusion, decreased consciousness, and slowed pulse and breathing.” Consumers who have come into contact with hand sanitizer containing 1-propanol should seek immediate care for the treatment of toxic effects of 1-propanol poisoning.

Take Action

If you or anyone you know has purchased a hand sanitizer containing 1-propanol and/or Methanol, immediately stop using the product and dispose of it. While hand sanitizer is a convenient way to wash your hands, health experts insist that washing your hands using soap and water for twenty seconds is the only guaranteed method to kill 100% of virus germs. This is especially important to do after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.

Before buying hand sanitizer products, scan the FDA do-not-use list of hand sanitizers to discover the brands that are consumer safe versus the brands that are not consumer safe.


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