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Healthcare Alert: Methanol poisoning associated with alcohol-based hand sanitizer

Thursday, July 9, 2020  
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The Arizona Department of Health Services was notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about several hand sanitizing products that have been inappropriately manufactured with methanol. Arizona Poison Control Centers have reported an increase in the number of methanol-related poisonings from hand sanitizers by ingestion and skin exposure.

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers have been marketed heavily during the COVID-19 pandemic as an alternative to washing hands with soap and water. FDA recently advised consumers not to use hand sanitizers manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV (made in Mexico), because even though the label may list ethanol they also can contain methanol. The FDA maintains a list of affected hand sanitizers that contain methanol.

The major toxic effects of methanol do not show until methanol is broken down in the body, which may be delayed for 12-24 hours after exposure. These effects can include: drowsiness, headache, vomiting, abdominal pain, visual disturbances, and blurred vision. Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate medical care.

If a patient presents with the aforementioned symptoms and has history of exposure to alcohol-based hand sanitizers, Arizona providers should:
● Provide immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning;
● Immediately call the Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

Arizona providers are encouraged to educate patients on the appropriate use and storage of ABHS to avoid unintentional ingestion and exposures

The Arizona Department of Health Services and local health departments will continue to monitor developments related to this emerging issue. Please continue to check the CDC website for the newest, most reliable information. If you have any questions about reporting, please contact your local health department.

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