The Dangers of Alcohol Sanitizers

Bottles of hand sanitizers abound and just about everyone is carrying a container of usually alcohol-based gel to squeeze unto their hands to protect themselves from germs. While we use this to protect your health, sometimes this can be not so healthy.

Not to be Used Near an Open Flame

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are mainly alcohol, and alcohol can be dangerous. The vapors coming from the alcohol are both volatile and flammable, a recipe for disaster. Add a spark and the result can be terrifying and permanently damaging.  Just ask the parents of the small girl who burned her face when the hand protection she was playing with caught fire and burned her face.

This disaster can happen to adults just as well. Moving quickly and not thinking, it is easy to apply alcohol hand sanitizers and before the sanitizer has dried, turn on the gas store, flick a lighter for a cigarette, or strike a match to light a candle, and the combustible vapor from the alcohol can catch fire instantly resulting in severe burns. Another danger is hand sanitizers around fire pits. While outdoor activities seem to be both fun and safe even while social distancing, a bottle of hand sanitizer accidentally dripping into the fire, used an accelerant or worse yet tossed into the fire pit or fireplace, will cause a fiery explosion as some people have the scars to show.

Children Ingesting Hand Sanitizers

Hand sanitizers are classified as an over-the-counter drug, but this seems to be the only OTC drug that is so freely used with and by children. In an effort by well-meaning adults to keep their children healthy, many times the adults don’t have the respect of hand sanitizers as a drug, and rather seem to allow children to use and misuse this formulation many times enhanced with colorful glitter, pretty pictures and yummy scents, almost as just another pretty play toy. According to the American Association of Poison Control centers, of October 31, 2020, poison control centers have managed 20,676 exposure cases related to hand sanitizer in children 12 years and younger ingesting this gel.

Another potentially harmful and even dangerous move by some manufactures to entice sales is to market their sanitizers and entice sales by packaging hand sanitizers in containers that at first glance seem to be containers for drinks or even snacks.

Harmful Health Rumors

There was a popular myth that drinking highly concentrated alcohol would disinfect the body and kill/protect against the COVID-19 virus. While this is a dangerous and false rumor, some people thought it to be true and drank alcohol-based hand sanitizers resulting in blindness in less severe cases, and death in most.

Many of the alcohol-based hand sanitizer contain methanol alcohol, which if ingested causes death. Methanol is toxic even when absorbed through the skin. And while the FDA is attempting to warn consumers about methanol- containing sanitizers, there are still many brands available that contain this ingredient, sometimes not shown on the label.

Yet, despite theses risk, dangers and the FDA warnings, most hand sanitizers are alcohol based.