Experts say some manufacturers were deliberately replacing ethanol with methanol in their now-sanitized hand products in order to cut costs and continue demand amid the shortage created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Food and Drug Administration has consistently updated its list of hazardous hand sanitizers, which has since grown to nearly 150 products, due to the presence of toxic chemicals.
All cleaners ̵1; which entered the market at a time of increased risk – were withdrawn by the manufacturer or distributor after testing positively for methanol, which is a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze. Chemicals can be toxic if absorbed through the skin and potentially fatal if consumed, according to the FDA.
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The list has been rapidly updated since June when the regulator observed an increase in hand sewers that allegedly contained ethanol but tested positive for methanol contamination.
Patrick Penfield, a professor of supply chain management at Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management, told Newsweek that there was a push to use toxic chemicals rather than ethyl alcohol because “the price of this ingredient has gone up a lot.”
Penfield said the price increase was a direct result of worldwide demand for sanitizers following the outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“So to meet the demand for US hand sanitizers, some Mexican manufacturers of hand sanitizers began replacing ethyl alcohol with methanol in order to keep prices low and supply their customers,” he told the exit. .
Aline Holmes, an associate clinical professor at Rutgers University School of Nursing, said the manufacturers’ decision to switch to harmful chemicals was “intentional,” according to Newsweek.
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In most cases, the toxic chemical does not appear on the label, according to the FDA. However, “methanol is not an acceptable ingredient in any medicine, including hand sanitizer, even if methanol is listed as an ingredient on the product label,” the agency said.
Failure by the manufacturer to recall all potentially affected products “is putting consumers at risk of methanol poisoning,” the agency said.
Substantial exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent nervous system damage, or death, according to the FDA. Consumers experiencing symptoms should seek “immediate treatment,” the agency said.
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Between a time when consumers are using the product at a higher rate, the FDA is urging consumers not to use hand sanitizers from any of the listed manufacturers, even if the product or certain part number is not included in the reminder. “as some manufacturers are recalling only a few – but not all – of their hand sanitizers,” the FDA said.
The agency is also actively working with manufacturers to recall products and urging distributors and retailers to immediately “stop” the distribution and sale of gel sanitizers because of the risk of methanol poisoning.
A majority of methanol-containing hand sanitizers appear to be made in Mexico.
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