Last year there were numerous warnings and recalls on toxic, blinding, and deadly hand sanitizers. This included warnings that some brands were being mistaken for food or drinks due to misleading packaging. The FDA issued additional warnings this week.
Hundreds of Americans poisoned by hand sanitizer this month
More than half of hand sanitizers imported from Mexico contain dangerous levels of toxic ingredients and should not be used by consumers, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. In January alone, more than 900 accidental poisonings involving hand sanitizer were reported in the U.S., the overwhelming majority involving young children.
The FDA on Tuesday issued a countrywide import alert for alcohol-based hand sanitizers from Mexico, the agency’s latest attempt to address a pandemic-induced spike in products contaminated with methanol, or wood alcohol. The substance, which in most cases is not listed as an ingredient on the labels, can be toxic when absorbed through the skin, and life-threatening when ingested.
“Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol substitute are most at risk,” the FDA noted.
The increased use of hand sanitizers has led to a surge in accidental poisonings, most involving children. According to data from the National Poison Data System, there were 938 hand-sanitizer exposure cases reported to the 55 U.S. Poison Control Centers during a 10-day period, from January 1, 2021 to January 10, a 57% increase from a year ago. Of those cases, nearly 600 involved children ages 5 and younger.
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