Why the FDA just issued another hand sanitizer recall

With all the COVID-related matters we’re dealing with right now, we probably didn’t need the news that the FDA is recalling even more hand sanitizers, yet here we are. The government agency is warning that 1-propanol is now showing up in hand sanitizers. 

The FDA says: “1-propanol, not to be confused with 2-propanol/isopropanol/isopropyl alcohol, is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizer products marketed in the United States and can be toxic and life-threatening when ingested.” While 1-propanol can cause allergies and skin irritation, it is especially dangerous to young children who might accidentally swallow the product, or for teens and adults who consume it as a substitute for drinking alcohol (via Today). The chemical industry uses 1-propanol to make resins, and that’s something which humans should be not consuming (via Charlotte Observer). 

Hand sanitizers containing 1-propanol join the growing list of banned products, which also include Leafree Instant hand sanitizer which claims to be “edible,” and hand sanitizers made with methanol. Experts tell Newsweek, “Unfortunately, U.S. hand sanitizer manufacturers have been unable to keep up with these orders and many of these products are on back order. Some U.S. retail and distribution companies started importing hand sanitizers from Mexico due to this shortage.” 

Here's what to look for in a safe and effective hand sanitizer

In order for a hand sanitizer to be effective against COVID-19, the CDC says we should be using an alcohol-based sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also known as ethyl) alcohol. Meanwhile, the agency continues to advocate proper hand washing as an effective deterrent against the coronavirus. The CDC hasn’t reversed its stand on that since the pandemic first reared its head back in March.

Penn Live  says that when shopping for hand sanitizer, you’re probably better off avoiding those made by companies whose names you don’t recognize, since labels may not list the banned substances in their list of ingredients. You can find a full list of the unsafe hand sanitizers that are being recalled on the FDA’s website. If you have purchased any of the products, you are advised not to throw them away, or flush or pour them down the drain. Instead, contact your local waste management and recycling center for more information about safe disposal.

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