Last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers of toxic hand sanitizers entering the market. Earlier this week the FDA update that warning.
So let's take a look at what to avoid and what to look for in a safe hand sanitizer/cleansing product.
AVOID METHANOLFirst off, the primary ingredient causing concern is the presence of methanol (wood alcohol) and should not be used in hand sanitizers. Methanol is a toxic alcohol used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source. Think antifreeze and weed killer on your skin. Yuk and dangerous.
Methanol can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested, causing nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, or even death.
Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk, young children who accidentally ingest these products, and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are at greatest risk for methanol poisoning.
Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate medical treatment for potential reversal of the toxic effects of methanol poisoning. 1
Dozens of products from multiple companies have hit the shelves and have been sold at Walmart and Costco, among other stores. You can find a complete list on the FDA website.
NOT ENOUGH OF THE RIGHT ALCOHOL
There are three ingredients the FDA has approved as the active ingredient for hand sanitizers and no-rinse hand cleansers.
- Isopropyl - also known as rubbing alcohol; derived from petrochemicals
- Ethanol - derived from sugar, grains or potatoes
- Benzalkonium chloride - salt derived surfactant
The CDC has set guidelines for the hand rubbing cleansers in the clinical setting based on laboratory data. The minimum amount of ethanol is 60% and that increases to 70% for isopropyl. Benzalkonium chloride has been found to be less effective than either alcohol.
Products with less than the recommended levels will reduce the effectiveness of the alcohol or surfactant in the product.
Some products are claiming to be FDA approved, a false claim as none are approved by the FDA. You'll want to look at the ingredient deck to be sure alcohol is the first ingredient and if you don't know the brand, check with them to be sure the alcohol levels are at CDC guideline levels.
Other false claims highlighted by the FDA included claims that the product will protect 24 hours against COVID and other viruses and diseases.
When you're looking for a safe, non-toxic hand cleanser read the ingredient deck.
Sanitizer vs No-rinse Hand Cleanser
Hand sanitizers are, per FDA rules, Over-the-Counter drugs (OTC). So in order for a product to call itself a sanitizer, it must be made in an OTC facility (think medical-grade) and call out the active and inactive ingredients.
A non-rise hand cleanser, like CLEAN, will have the same ingredients but are made in a cosmetic facility, not an OTC facility. Therefore, by FDA guidelines, products made in a cosmetic facility cannot be called a sanitizer but can be called a no-rise hand cleanser. A hand cleanser that meets the CDC guidelines is just as effective as an OTC product.
It gets confusing, doesn't it?
CLEAN is Good For You
bluerub's CLEAN and SURFACE products are made in a USDA Certified Organic Cosmetic Facility that is also an FDA registered cosmetic manufacturer and maintains GMP Compliance. (Good Manufacturing Practices). No Methanol is allowed in the facility as this would violate the USDA Cert. Organic standing.
These products are both manufactured in the Pacific Northwest for bluerub.
Additionally, CLEAN contains lactic acid and plant-based Hemisqualane to soften and hydrate hands.
Shop for CLEAN and SURFACE and feel good about the products you're using.
NOTE from the FDA:
Consumers who have hand sanitizers with methanol should immediately stop using them and dispose of the bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of as recommended by your local waste management and recycling center. Don't flush or pour these products down the drain or mix with other liquids.