Hand sanitisers containing Methanol alcohol harmful to the body

We are all aware that keeping our hands clean and sanitised is extremely important in preventing the spread of disease. In the fast few months we have all been forced into be super aware of keeping social distance of at least 2 meters, wear masks to protect ourselves and each other, and to wash our hands regularly. When we go out and enter most businesses the security at the door or staff member would spray sanitiser onto our hands which is a requirement before we are allowed to enter. We are forced to oblige if we want to shop there or enter the bank or business, unless we have our own sanitiser and can demonstrate that we clean our hands in front of the security officer. Most people have been really good at keeping to these strict protocol measurements as we have been told that a hand sanitiser containing at least 70% alcohol may kill bacteria and viruses, including the Coronavirus.

But the type of alcohol contained in a hand sanitiser is relevant in determining its effect. Using a sanitiser containing the wrong type of alcohol is directly linked to its effectiveness. According to methanol.org, Public Health Agencies have recently brought to our attention that Methanol has weak ability to kill viruses when compared to other alcohols, and can be very harmful and even toxic to the human body. When Methanol touches the skin it gets absorbed into skin, enters the bloodstream and causes serious damage. Symptoms of toxic buildup in the body can appear as nausea, headache, blurred vision, vomiting, seizures, and severe liver damage. Most of the Methanol turns into Formaldehyde in the body and is rapidly converted into Formic acid in the liver, which causes damage to the liver, lungs, stomach, other organs and even brain damage. Methanol alcohol affects the nervous system, and can cause irreparable damages the optic nerve which can lead to blindness and even death.

Only a small amount, as little as 1 – 2 Tablespoons (10 – 15 ml) of Methanol can cause serious harm or death in adults. It can be much more harmful to children in even smaller amounts. 

The FDA (American Food and Drug Association) advised on 19 June 2020,

that consumers should avoid the use of any hand sanitiser that has a presence of methanol (wood alcohol), due to its toxicity. “Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitisers and should not be used due to its toxic effects.”

Methanol poisoning is quite common worldwide, especially due to adulterated or poor quality alcohol beverages and spirits. Those who have used Methanol containing sanitisers, are advised to contact their Medical Doctor immediately. The correct treatment is critical to reverse to reverse potential toxic effects of Methanol poisoning.

“The FDA recommends consumers stop using these hand sanitisers and dispose of them immediately in appropriate hazardous waste containers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain. The FDA reminds consumers to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing one’s nose.”

Sources:

Singapore (HQ) Washington Brussels Beijing www.methanol.org

The FDA (American Food and Drug Association)

FDA MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/here-are-9-hand-sanitizers-that-the-fda-warns-can-be-toxic-if-absorbed-by-the-body-2020-06-22