Hand Sanitizer Poisonings and Injuries Surge Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

As the novel coronavirus continues to spread in communities across the nation, hand sanitizer products are flying off store shelves. But while hand sanitizer can help slow transmission of COVID-19, a growing number of reports have also linked such products to poisonings, burns, and other serious injuries.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported people getting sick and even dying after swallowing hand sanitizer.  Some people who drank hand sanitizer have gone blind or suffered seizures due to a mislabeled bottle.  And it’s not just adults . . .children from toddlers to teenagers are being hospitalized after exposure to hand sanitizers.

The Killino Firm’s defective products lawyers believe the victims of preventable hand sanitizer injuries and poisonings deserve compensation for their pain and suffering. If you or someone you love was hurt because of a defective hand sanitizer product, call our law firm toll free at 877-875-2927 to speak with an attorney and learn more about your legal rights.

 Hand Sanitizer Poisoning

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned consumers that some alcohol-based hand sanitizers had been packaged in containers that looked like food or drinks.  Hand sanitizer can be toxic if ingested, and even a small amount is potentially lethal to a small child.

“I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages. These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product,” FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. said in a release dated August 27, 2020. “It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning.”

According to the FDA, hand sanitizer products may be packaged in beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles, and vodka bottles. In at least two cases, consumers purchased what they thought was bottled water but was, in fact, hand sanitizer.  The agency also found hand sanitizer products that contained food flavors, such as chocolate or raspberry.

The FDA is also aware of adverse events associated with hand sanitizer ingestion, including cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations, and death. Most of these cases were reported to poison control centers and state departments of health.

Methanol in Some Hand Sanitizer Causing Burns, Blindness, Other Injuries

Over the summer FDA warned that some off-brand hand sanitizers might contain dangerous ingredients, including methanol. Also called wood alcohol, methanol is used to manufacture fuel, solvents, and antifreeze and is not an acceptable ingredient in hand sanitizer. In addition to being highly toxic if ingested or absorbed by the skin, methanol is highly flammable and can be easily ignited by heat, sparks, or flames.

“Practicing good hand hygiene, which includes using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available, is an important public health tool for all Americans to employ,” Commissioner Hahn said. “Consumers must also be vigilant about which hand sanitizers they use, and for their health and safety, we urge consumers to immediately stop using all hand sanitizers on the FDA’s list of dangerous hand sanitizer products.

From May to August, 1,585 exposures to hand sanitizer containing methanol were reported across the United States.  Methanol exposure can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system, and can be fatal. Although people using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who ingest these methanol-based hand sanitizer and adolescents and adults who drink these products as an alcohol substitute are most at risk.

Several people – including children – also suffered burns when they came into contact with an open flame after using methanol-containing hand sanitizers.

Hand-Sanitizer Recalls

The FDA has so far warned consumers not to use more than 200 off-brand hand sanitizers that contain methanol. For several months now, the agency has been proactively working with manufacturers to recall products and has encouraged retailers to remove the affected hand sanitizers from store shelves and online marketplaces.

Blumen Hand Sanitizer, a product distributed by 4e North America and manufactured by 4E Global in Mexico, has reportedly been linked to one death. In July, the company recalled all lots of Blumen Hand Sanitizer, along with all lots of its Assured and Modesa Clear Gel Antibacterial hand sanitizer brands.

So far, other companies officially recalling methanol-containing hand sanitizers include:

In August, Ahstel Studios recalled .84-ounce pouches of hand sanitizer decorated with images of children’s toys that could be mistaken for food.

The FDA has also taken additional action to prevent certain hand sanitizers from entering the United States by placing them on an import alert. As part of these actions, a warning letter was issued to Eskbiochem S.A. de C.V. regarding the distribution of products labeled as manufactured at its facilities with undeclared methanol, misleading claims –including incorrectly stating that FDA approved these products—and improper manufacturing practices.

Hand Sanitizer Safety

Good hand hygiene can go a long way towards preventing transmission of COVID-19. When soap and water aren’t available, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content.

When using hand sanitizer, keep the following safety precautions in mind:

  • Read and follow the Drug Facts label, particularly the warnings section.
  • Store hand sanitizer out of the reach of pets and children. Only allow your young son or daughter to use it with adult supervision.
  • Never drink hand sanitizer. Even ingesting a small amount can cause a kid to suffer alcohol poisoning.
  • Store hand sanitizer away from heat and flames. When using hand sanitizer, rub your hands until they feel completely dry before performing activities that may involve heat, sparks, static electricity, or open flames.

Contact Us

Our hand sanitizer injury lawyers have the resources and experience to ensure the victims of defectively designed or manufactured products receive the compensation they deserve.  If you or a loved one were hurt after using hand sanitizer and you’d like to speak with an attorney, please do not hesitate to contact the Killino Law Firm at 1-877-875-2927.