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U.S. warns against Mexican sanitizer gel containing methanol

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about poisonous methanol in hand sanitizer
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned that a Mexican-made hand sanitizer gel is dangerous because it contains large amounts of poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol.
(Lara Solt / Dallas Morning News / Associated Press)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning about a Mexican-made hand sanitizer gel that it said is dangerous because it contains large amounts of poisonous methanol, or wood alcohol.

The FDA said the methanol “can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested” and recommended consumers dispose of nine brands of gel sanitizers made by Eskbiochem SA de CV.

The FDA said one of the brands contained 81% methanol and no ethyl alcohol, which is the drinkable kind.

Late last week, the FDA said it had contacted Eskbiochem “to recommend the company remove its hand sanitizer products from the market due to the risks associated with methanol poisoning,” but the firm hadn’t done so. The company did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

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Among the brands are All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer and Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer.

“Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk,” the FDA said, it is especially dangerous for children who accidentally ingest it or adults who drink it as an ethyl alcohol substitute.

Methanol is a poisonous cousin of the ethyl alcohol that occurs in liquor and cannot be smelled or tasted. It causes organ and brain damage and can be fatal. Symptoms of exposure include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.

Methanol poisoning from adulterated liquor has cost more than a hundred lives in Mexico since the COVID-19 pandemic began. As part of coronavirus lockdowns, many towns banned sales of liquor; additionally, many people who lost jobs have been unable to buy professionally made liquor.


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