This week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people are getting sick and dying after ingesting hand sanitizer. Four individiuals have died and others have suffered from seizures or impaired vision. Now, the CDC is issuing a warning to hand sanitizer consumers.
“Alcohol-based hand sanitizer products should never be ingested,” the CDC stated in their latest report.
In May and June, 15 adults in New Mexico and Arizona were hospitalized for methanol poisoning after swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. The report did not include information on why people were consuming hand sanitizer.
“Safety messaging to avoid ingestion of any alcohol-based hand sanitizer product should continue,” the CDC wrote. “Young children might unintentionally swallow these products, whereas adolescents or adults with history of alcohol use disorder might intentionally swallow these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute.”
Not the First Warning of Its Kind
The individuals, aged 21 to 65, were admitted to the hospital after consuming hand sanizier. According to the CDC, six suffered seizures in the hospital and three were discharged with newly-developed visual impairments.
Recently, the FDA recalled more than 100 hand sanitizer products. Due to a higher demand for alcohol-based hand sanitizer in the pandemic, some companies are producing hand sanitizer with methanol instead of ethanol. Methanol is toxic and can poison people through their skin. The CDC reminds consumers to only use hand sanitizers containing ethanol or isopropanol.
The FDA warned consumers to seek medical treatment immediately if they had come into contact with hand sanitizers containing methanol. They also advised to stop using the recalled products and dispose of them in proper hazardous waste containers. Consumers should avoid flushing or pouring products down the drain.
Earlier in the pandemic, the CDC also reported a spike in calls to poison control centers, with many involving the misuse of bleach and hand sanitizer.
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Hand Sanitizer Deaths — Sources
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — August 5, 2020 statement