The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol).
The FDA regulates hand sanitizer as an over-the-counter drug. The FDA discovered serious safety concerns with some hand sanitizers during recent testing, including:
- Contamination with potentially toxic types of alcohol
- Not enough active ingredient (ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol)
- Labels with false, misleading, or unproven claims
Below are some of the chemicals that we’ve come across that you might want to consider to avoid, especially on high daily usage personal care products:
As a humectant, glycerin draws water from the nearest source. Especially in low humidity conditions, the nearest source of water is the lower levels of your skin. This can dehydrate the skin, even to the point of blistering.
Synthetic Fragrance & Phthalates
Cause reproductive harms. These hormone-disrupting chemicals may increase both the risk of miscarriage and risk factors for gestational diabetes.
Methanol and 1-Propanol Are Toxic
There are many types of alcohol. Only ethyl alcohol and isopropyl alcohol (also known as 2-propanol) are acceptable alcohols in hand sanitizer. Other types of alcohol, including methanol and 1-propanol, are not acceptable in hand sanitizer because they can be toxic to humans. Recent FDA safety testing discovered some hand sanitizers contaminated with these potentially toxic types of alcohol.
Methanol or methyl alcohol, also known as wood alcohol, is used to make rocket fuel and antifreeze and is very toxic. Methanol should never be rubbed on your skin or swallowed. Swallowing or drinking hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol can cause serious health problems, including permanent blindness, and death. The CDC website has more information about people who died or were permanently blinded after swallowing hand sanitizer contaminated with methanol.
1-Propanol or 1-propyl alcohol is used to make industrial solvents (a type of cleaner) and can also be toxic to humans when swallowed. Swallowing or drinking a hand sanitizer with 1-propanol can result in decreased breathing and heart rate, among other serious symptoms, and can lead to death. Hand sanitizer with 1-propanol contamination can irritate your skin (or eyes, if exposed). Although it is rare, some people have reported allergic skin reactions.
It’s an endocrine disruptor, meaning it interferes with important hormone functions, which can directly affect the brain in addition to our immune and reproductive systems. Specifically, the chemical disturbs thyroid, testosterone, and estrogen regulation, which can create a host of issues including early puberty, poor sperm quality, infertility, obesity, and cancer. Studies have also shown it can lead to impaired learning and memory, exacerbate allergies, and weaken muscle function. The impacts of prolonged exposure during fetal development, infancy, and childhood can be particularly severe, resulting in permanent damage.
Hope the above gives you a clearer picture of the chemicals to consider to avoid and select, not only for sanitizers but also for our own daily personal care products as well. Stay safe and stop the spread!
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