Hand-sanitizer manufacturing and sales have exploded recently to meet demand during the coronavirus pandemic, but a select few products may not be safe for use. The United States Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory on Friday warning against using the hand-sanitizer products of Mexico-based manufacturer Eskbiochem after finding methanol in some of its products.
Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested. The FDA recommended that anyone exposed to hand sanitizers containing methanol seek immediate treatment, as substantial exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, headaches, seizures, permanent blindness, coma, nervous-system damage, and death.
Methanol was found in nine brands of Eskbiochem’s products, including All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer, and The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer (see the full list here). One product, Lavar Gel, contains 81 percent methanol. Young children who accidentally consume the substance are most at risk for methanol poisoning.
Eskbiochem was only made aware of the FDA warning on Monday, according to Alexander Escamillo, a representative for the company. The FDA stated in its advisory that it had contacted the company on Wednesday to recommend that it remove its products from the market. “To date, the company has not taken action to remove these potentially dangerous products from the market,” the advisory reads.
According to the New York Times, it’s not immediately clear whether the products the FDA flagged were sold in the U.S.
The FDA also warned against disposing of any toxic hand-sanitizer products by flushing them down the drain. Instead, they should be disposed of in “appropriate hazardous-waste containers.”
Escamillo told the Times that someone who “had access to our company” registered it with the FDA. “He registered our labels and shipped sanitizers,” he said — “we did not register ourselves.” Escamillo expressed confidence in the company’s commitment to take action against the mysterious saboteur, whom he referred to only as a broker. “We would never do that, send a toxic chemical maliciously,” he said.
In fact, Escamillo asserts nobody at the company can log in to their FDA profile, “because we don’t know how to.”