‘Toxic effect’: FDA announces recall of hand sanitisers over risk of cancer and blindness

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Hand sanitiser became ubiquitous during the pandemic because the product offers adequate protection against harmful microorganisms. Despite making a killing, some batches have been recalled over their hazardous impact on human health. The FDA recently issued a warning over products containing benzene and methanol. The chemicals, the body has warned, are associated with permanent blindness, cancer and death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the recall of two hand sanitisers over the presence of benzene and methanol.

The company Best Brands Consumer Products, announced on April 1st that it was voluntarily withdrawing the Mandalorian hand Sanitiser Ethyl Alcohol 68 percent and the Mickey Mouse Hand Sanitiser Ethyl Alcohol 68 percent from the market.

The company announced the move after FDA testing identified benzene in the Mandalorian Hand Sanitiser and methanol in the Micky Mouse Hand Sanitiser.

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An entry on the FDA’s website reads: “Methanol, or wood alcohol, is a substance that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin or ingested and can be life-threatening when ingested.”

In the past, the agency has received reports of blindness, hospitalisation and death, in children and adults following ingestion of the chemical.

“Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitisers and must not be used due to its toxic effect,” added the FDA.

“FDA’s investigations of methanol in certain hand sanitisers is ongoing. The agency will provide additional information as it becomes available.”

Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizure, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

“Although all persons using these products on their hands are at risk for methanol poisoning, young children who accidentally ingest these products and adolescents and adults who drink these products as a alcohol substitute are most at risk,” the body explained.

While the risks of methanol are substantial, the health body adds that chemical benzene is equally dangerous to human health.

Unlike benzene, however, methanol has no cancer-causing properties.

“Benzene is classified as a human carcinogen,” explains the FDA.

“Substantial exposure to benzene can occur through inhalation, oral, and skin and it may result in cancers including leukaemia and blood cancer of the bone marrow and blood disorders, which can be life-threatening.”

While it seems carcinogens can prompt disease after only small exposures, others require intense exposure to have effect.

What’s more, it can take years for the consequences of this exposure to become apparent in the body.

Best Brands said both products, which were launched in 2020, were received from a third party shipper before being packaged for sale.

The products were named after Disney characters after Best Brands had the branding licensed to them by the entertainment conglomerate.

The products are no longer on the market since their sale period came to a close last year.

Consumers who own sanitisers containing both aforementioned substances have previously been advised by the FDA to stop using them immediately.

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