MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Wisconsin health officials are warning residents to be careful of hand sanitizers that may contain dangerous, if not deadly, chemicals.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services explained in a release Tuesday that as countries across the world ramp up the production of sanitizer amid the pandemic, so does the risk of unsafe chemicals and alcohols sneaking into sanitizers.
For instance, health departments have recorded a large increase in hand sanitizers labeled to contain ethanol (or ethyl alcohol) – but actually contain methanol contamination.
Methanol, also known as wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested, according to the DHS, and can be life-threatening.
Interim State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley said in a release that hand sanitizer is great to use when soap and water arent available, but frequent, thorough hand-washing is the best way to prevent spreading viruses like COVID-19.
If you must use hand sanitizer, be sure to avoid any products on the Food and Drug Administrations (FDA) list of hand sanitizers that have been recalled(link is external), according to Smiley. You can see that list here.
According to the Wisconsin Poison Center:
- Use only as directed on hands. The accidental ingestion of even a relatively small amount of methanol by children may pose a serious poisoning risk. Symptoms of methanol poisoning are nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
- There is concern for poisoning related to the most common ingredient in hand sanitizers, ethyl alcohol. These products typically contain over 60% ethyl alcohol, a stronger concentration than most hard liquors. A child ingesting any more than a lick or a taste of this product could be at risk for alcohol poisoning. Ingestion of as little as an ounce or two could be fatal in a small child.
- If you or a child accidentally swallows hand sanitizer, call the Wisconsin Poison Center right away. Dont wait for symptoms to develop. Call the Poison Center at 800-222-1222 anytime day or night.
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