SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Three people in South Dakota have been hospitalized with methanol poisoning due to drinking hand sanitizer, and one has died, according to the state Department of Health on Thursday, July 30.
The Food and Drug Administration recalled hand sanitizers containing methanol in June and expanded the recall twice in July to about 100 products. A full list of recalled hand sanitizers is on the FDA website.
Methanol, or wood alcohol, is toxic when it is absorbed through the skin, according to the FDA. Drinking hand sanitizers with methanol has caused blindness, hospitalizations and death, the FDA said in its product recall announcement.
State Epidemiologist Joshua Clayton warned anyone with hand sanitizer containing methanol to discard those products.
"It is a good reminder that individuals should check their hand sanitizer and make sure it's not one of those recalled products, because we know we have those products in South Dakota, and that methanol is not a product that we want to have in hand sanitizing solutions we're using," Clayton said. "Even when used on the skin, to sanitize the skin, it can still cause dermatologic concerns."
The FDA recommends consumers check their hand sanitizer against the recall list, because some hand products that have tested positive for methanol are mislabeled as containing ethanol, or ethyl alcohol. The agency has seen a sharp rise in mislabeled hand sanitizers, according to its recall notice.
Those most at risk are young children who accidentally drink the hand sanitizers or adults who drink them as an alcohol substitute, according to the FDA.
Symptoms of methanol poisoning are nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.
Hand sanitizers have been hot sellers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as health officials have urged consumers to frequently wash and sanitize their hands to limit the spread of the virus.
The rush of new products has included many that have triggered warnings from the FDA. Some hand sanitizers don't contain the recommended 60% of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol. Others are falsely listed as "FDA-approved" or sold with what the FDA said is misleading claims about their effectiveness.
The full FDA hand sanitizer product recall list: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol.