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Northeast Ohio health leaders share growing list of potentially hazardous hand sanitizers

FDA hazardous hand sanitizer list peaks to 115
Posted at 7:07 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-05 23:22:44-04

CLEVELAND — Summit County Public Health and doctors at University Hospitals forwarded a growing warning from the Food and Drug Administration about potentially hazardous hand sanitizers that continue to make their way to store shelves.

Read the list here

The updated FDA list, published by Summit County Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda, now has peaked at 115 hand sanitizer brands the FDA reports may contain methanol or wood alcohol, a toxic substance when absorbed through the skin or ingested.

She told News 5 sanitizers are not approved by the FDA, so consumers should not assume they are completely safe, or effective simply because they are on store shelves.

Skoda and the FDA's most recent report indicated sanitizers should contain at least 60% alcohol content to be effective.

“Often we find that most people have a trust, that they see something in a store, they think somebody has approved it, somebody has monitored it,” Skoda said

“Some sanitizers don’t appear to have the appropriate amount of alcohol to be effective, and, or they contain Methanol, that is wood alcohol, not the kind you drink, that is a poison.”

“It can get through your skin, it can transfer through your skin and can cause all sorts of issues.”

“It will be absorbed through your skin slowly, but depending on how much you’re using, headache, nausea, there are all sorts of symptoms that will come with it eventually.”

“Hand sanitizers are really for use when you don’t have good old soap and water available.”

Dr. Ryan Marino, Medical Toxicologist, and ER Physician with University Hospitals in Cleveland told News 5 he's not as concerned about Methanol being absorbed through the skin, as he is about an alarming number of people ingesting hand sanitizer across the country.

“Methanol is a very toxic compound,” Marino said.

“It can cause altered mental status, nausea, vomiting, headaches, weakness.”

“Low amounts of alcohol in hand sanitizers is an equal concern, that is just as valid because if you’re not actually sanitizing your hands then every time you’re using that hand sanitizer, you’re keeping yourself at risk for an infection.”

“These hand sanitizers are kind of being made by small groups, small outfits, liquor distilleries. And methanol is an unfortunate part of the process in producing ethanol.”