If your bottle of hand sanitizer contains methanol, you could be risking a toxic reaction, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

When a product gets the level of attention that hand sanitizers have been getting over the last few months, combined with the public scouring store shelves trying to buy as much as they can, problems can arise.

The problem, according to the FDA, is that at least 75 different hand sanitizers contain methanol instead of ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol).

Alcohol is alcohol, right?

Not at all. 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 FDA says that they're aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death.

The FDA has stated for months that methanol is not an acceptable active ingredient in hand sanitizers, and has banned its use in them. However, when there's a run on a product, especially a long-term run, there are always unscrupulous people who try to take advantage in any way that they can. In this case, it's substituting a toxic substance for the proper one.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death. Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidently ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.


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