FDA warns about new hand sanitizer ingredient, expands list of dangerous products to 149

The FDA has previously warned about more than 100 hand sanitizer products containing methanol. Now, it's alerting the public to the dangers of 1-propanol.
/ Source: TODAY

The Food and Drug Administration is encouraging Americans to avoid hand sanitizers contaminated with 1-propanol, a toxic and potentially life-threatening alcohol when ingested.

Wednesday's announcement comes on the heels of the agency's mid-June warning about hand sanitizers containing methanol, a type of wood alcohol that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. As of Aug. 13, the FDA's list of specific hand sanitizer products to avoid, due to either 1-propanol or methanol, was up to 149 items.

"FDA is warning consumers and health care professionals about certain hand sanitizer products, including those manufactured by Harmonic Nature S de RL de MI in Mexico, that are labeled to contain ethanol or isopropyl alcohol but have tested positive for 1-propanol contamination," the agency said Wednesday in a statement.

"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."

The FDA release went on to explain that 1-propanol-contaminated hand sanitizers are most dangerous to young children, who might accidentally swallow the product, and adolescents and adults who might consume it as a drinking alcohol substitute.

Ingesting 1-propanol can lead to central nervous system depression, which can be deadly, per the FDA. Signs of 1-propanol exposure include confusion, decreased consciousness, and slowed pulse and breathing. Getting 1-propanol in the skin or eyes can cause irritation, and there have been rare instances of allergic skin reactions, as well.

Anyone exposed to hand sanitizer with 1-propanol and experiencing symptoms should "seek immediate care for treatment of toxic effects of 1-propanol poisoning," the FDA said.

On June 19, the FDA issued its first warning about "hand sanitizer manufactured by Eskbiochem SA de CV in Mexico, due to the potential presence of methanol." At the time, there were nine products of concern on the market. More than 100 have since been added.

In late July, the agency said it had established an import alert to prevent certain hand sanitizers from entering the U.S. and is encouraging retailers to stop selling the affected products.

Brands with products on the current list include Blumen, Klar and Danver, Assured Instant Hand Sanitizer and Aloe, Hello Kitty Hand Sanitizer, LumiSkin, Modesa, V-KLEAN and more.

If you have a product on the list of hand sanitizers to avoid, available its entirety on the FDA website, the agency recommends no longer using the product and disposing of it in a hazardous waste container. Contact your local waste management center for more info. Do not pour these products down the drain or flush them, per the FDA.