3 People Die After Drinking Hand Sanitizer In New Mexico
Three people have died, one is permanently blind, and three others are in critical condition after drinking hand sanitizer containing methanol in New Mexico, according to state health officials.
According to the New Mexico Department of Health, the cases occurred over several weeks in May, and are related to alcoholism. In the past, people have been known to drink hand sanitizer when other forms of alcohol cannot be obtained, and it’s possible that hand sanitizer may be obtained more easily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most alcohol-based hand sanitizers are made with ethyl alcohol, which is the same type of alcohol found in alcoholic drinks, though hand sanitizers often have additives that make them unfit for consumption. There is also isopropyl alcohol, which is the type doctors use to sterilize skin and surfaces, and methyl alcohol, which is also called wood alcohol, and is an industrial solvent. Methyl alcohol is most dangerous if ingested, but can also be absorbed through the skin or inhaled.
Earlier this month, the Food and Drug Administration put out a statement warning consumers against using hand sanitizers made by Eskbiochem in Mexico because they were made with methyl alcohol. The statement included a list of nine methyl-based hand sanitizer brands that the public should steer clear of, including: All-Clean Hand Sanitizer, Esk Biochem Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, Lavar 70 Gel Hand Sanitizer, The Good Gel Antibacterial Gel Hand Sanitizer, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 75% Alcohol, CleanCare NoGerm Advanced Hand Sanitizer 80% Alcohol and Saniderm Advanced Hand Sanitizer.
Children who may accidentally ingest hand sanitizer, and those who are most susceptible to using hand sanitizer as an ethyl alcohol drink substitute are most at risk for methanol poisoning. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, vomiting, blurred vision, and loss of consciousness, according to the Centers for Disease Control. If you have come into contact with methyl alcohol, get treatment immediately, FDA officials said. There is an antidote to methanol poisoning, but it’s most effective when it is given quickly after exposure.
If you have any of the brands of hand sanitizer listed above, the FDA recommends throwing them away in hazardous material containers, and they warn consumers not to pour them down the drain or flush them.