In late July, hand sanitizers attracted a fair degree of attention when it was discovered that some manufacturing plants were using methanol—which is toxic—rather than ethanoyl in their products. The issue arose as the coronavirus pandemic caused people to seek out germ stopping solutions and manufacturing plants tried to meet higher demands. Thankfully, the FDA quickly caught on to the problem and promptly sent out a list of recalled items.
Hand sanitizers have once again entered the spotlight—and not for a good reason. Criticism and disappointment have arisen in response to the packaging types some hand sanitizers are sold in. Recently, many appear indistinguishable from water bottles, vodka bottles, shampoo, and even children’s snacks.
This is especially alarming because the ingestion of the compounds present in hand sanitizer can be lethal, even in small amounts. This is especially true for children. In a statement the FDA warned against the consumption of hand sanitizer: “drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child, who may be attracted by a pleasant smell or brightly colored bottle.”
Moreover, the consumption of hand sanitizer can lead to heart and nervous system problems. This is especially concerning given the fact that hospitals are more dangerous with the coronavirus running through them.
In a twitter statement, the FDA strongly encourages people to be conscious of their use of hand sanitizer. The statement read “beware of alcohol-based hand sanitizers packaged in containers that may appear as food or drinks. These products may put you and your family at risk of serious injury, or death, if ingested.”
Given the intense side effects that can arise from consuming hand sanitizer, it is of the utmost importance that individuals use an abundance of caution when purchasing and using hand sanitizer. It is only through individual caution that this problem can be solved.
The issues associated with hand sanitizer serve as an unfortunate reminder that we are still living through a pandemic. COVID-19 has put immeasurable pressure on the economy and has plunged it into a recession while simultaneously killing hundreds of thousands of individuals. The pressure it has put on the hand sanitizer market to produce more in order to keep up with demand therefore seems like less of a concern. However, this is not to say that caution should be ignored. We are living through dangerous times and hypervigilance is necessary for survival.