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Adults and children in the United States were blinded, hospitalized, and in some cases even died after drinking hand disinfectants contaminated with the extremely toxic alcohol methanol, the Food and Drug Administration reports.
In an updated safety warning, the agency identified five other brands of hand disinfectants that contain methanol, a simple alcohol that is often associated with improperly distilled liquid that is toxic when absorbed, inhaled, or absorbed through the skin.
The newly identified products are in addition to nine methanol-containing disinfectants identified by the FDA last month, all of which are manufactured by the Mexican manufacturer Eskbiochem SA de CV. According to FDA tests, one of the products contained 81 percent methanol and no ethanol, a safe alcohol typically used in hand sanitizers. At that time, the agency reported that it "had no reports of adverse events related to these hand sanitizers."
However, in the latest warning – last updated on July 6th – the FDA said government officials have since reported reports to the agency of cases where "adults and children are taking hand disinfectants contaminated with methanol, leading to recent adverse events such as blindness, hospitalization, and death." have led . ”
Mystical shield protection. Hand disinfectant
Berish hand disinfectant.
Hand disinfection gel from Grupo Insoma.
The FDA is pushing for recalls. In the meantime, the agency advises consumers to immediately stop using the products, to see a doctor immediately if there are signs of poisoning, and to dispose of the products in suitable containers for hazardous waste (do not flush into the drain).
Methanol is metabolized in the body to formaldehyde and then to formic acid. This can lead to a dangerous accumulation of acid in the bloodstream, which damages organs and tissues, especially the optic nerve, and causes visual disturbances and blindness. Drinking just 30 milliliters – 2 tablespoons – can be fatal to children, and even smaller amounts can cause blindness.
However, drinking is not the only way that methanol causes serious damage. Inhaling or absorbing methanol through the skin can result in the same systemic effects that occur when ingested. These can manifest as nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent nervous system damage, or death, according to the FDA.
"Although everyone who uses these products on their hands is at risk of methanol poisoning, toddlers who accidentally take these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as alcohol substitutes (ethanol) are most at risk," the FDA said in its warning. The risks are further increased given the current COVID-19 pandemic as many people use hand sanitizers more often to protect themselves from the devastating new corona virus.
The newly identified products are as follows:
- Hand disinfectant Gel Unscented 70% Alcohol, manufactured by Grupo Insoma, S.A.P.I. de CV (Mexico)
- Hand disinfectant Mystic Shield Protection, manufactured by Transliquid Technologies (Mexico)
- Bersih hand disinfectant gel fragrance-free, manufactured by Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV (Mexico)
- Antiseptic alcohol 70% topical solution hand disinfectant manufactured by Soluciones Cosmeticas SA de CV (Mexico)
- Britz hand disinfectant ethyl alcohol 70%, manufactured by Tropicosmeticos SA de CV (Mexico)
The full list of product codes can be found here.