Over the past two months, four people have died and 11 more have been hospitalized from drinking tainted hand sanitizer in the USA.
The CDC believes the deaths are due to methanol, a type of alcohol that is poisonous to humans.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also warned of solutions containing methanol as a substitute.
Ethanol is found in spirits, so at moderate concentrations it’s fine to ingest.
In contrast, methanol is a whole different ball game. Found in antifreeze, rocket fuel, and making plastic, ingestion of even tiny amounts of methanol can lead to decreased consciousness, vomiting, and abdominal pain, before escalating to loss of vision and even fatal kidney failure.
Usually consisting of 60-95 percent ethanol or isopropyl, hand sanitizers should still never be ingested as there have been cases of ethanol toxicity from people drinking the stuff.
Between May 1 and June 30, the CDC reported 15 people hospitalized from methanol poisoning. Six of the patients suffered seizures, three now have a visual impairment, and four tragically lost their lives.
It is believed that many of those that drank the tainted solutions suffered from alcohol disorders and intentionally swallowed the fluid, unaware of the small but dramatic difference of its contents.
The FDA stresses that methanol is not an accepted ingredient in hand sanitizers, so always take a look at the ingredients when buying bottles and check the FDA’s list of hand sanitizers that you should never use.
Finally, always keep hand sanitizer away from children – even without methanol, the solutions are harmful to them.