The US Federal Drug Administration has declared more hand sanitisers unsafe. Their updated list now contains more than 100 sanitisers.
The FDA has been reviewing hand sanitisers for safety during the pandemic and warning people about substandard ones that have infiltrated the market.
The recent additions are sanitisers that don’t have an adequate level of alcohol to kill microbes such as the new coronavirus. These include the ones produced by Mexican firms 4E Global, AAA Cosmetica, DEPQ Internacional, Eskbiochem and others listed here.
Alcohol is listed as ethanol or isopropyl alcohol/ isopropanol in the ingredient list of the products. The CDC says that to be effective, a sanitiser must contain 60% alcohol or above.
Alcohol in combination with glycerine and hydrogen peroxide (in the ratio found in effective sanitisers) has been scientifically proven to inactivate the coronavirus. However, this does not mean hand sanitisers can be ingested or people attempt to make sanitisers at home. Drinking sanitiser can cause alcohol poisoning.
In April, the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority declared sanitisers of 23 brands substandard because they did not have the right amount of alcohol or pH levels by WHO standards. They were asked to be removed from the market.
In its press statement the FDA said: “The agency urges consumers not to use these subpotent products and has expanded its list to include subpotent hand sanitisers, in addition to hand sanitisers that are or may be contaminated with methanol.”
In July, the agency issued an alert over hand sanitisers found to contain methanol, also known as wood alcohol. “[Methanol] used to create fuel and antifreeze is not an acceptable active ingredient for hand sanitiser products and can be toxic when absorbed through the skin as well as life-threatening when ingested.”
Methanol poisoning can cause the following symptoms:
It can prove to be rapidly fatal in children.
As of now, the best method to protect yourself from COVID-19 is washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, wearing a mask around people and social distancing of six feet or two metres.