Hidden health dangers of hand sanitizer you need to know

In this article we will be considering some hidden dangers of hand sanitizer.

Hand sanitizer is a liquid, gel, or foam generally used to decrease infectious agents on the hands.

The question is, are they as safe and effective as people think they are?

Here are some hidden health dangers of hand sanitizer – 

  1. Presence of Methanol

FDA is warning consumers and health care providers that the agency has seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizer products that are labeled to contain ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) but that have tested positive for methanol contamination. 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.

The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death.

Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and must not be used due to its toxic effects.

Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol and are experiencing symptoms should seek immediate treatment for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning. Substantial methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, 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 an alcohol (ethanol) substitute, are most at risk.

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2. Presence of Triclosan or Triclocarban

This ingredient can also be found in soaps and even toothpaste. These products are often labeled antibacterial, antimicrobial, or antiseptic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says Triclosan could carry unnecessary risks, including some on this list, given that their benefits have yet to be proved.

Here are some effects of Triclosan –

  • Baterial Resistance: Laboratory studies have raised the possibility that Triclosan contributes to making bacteria resistant to antibiotics. Some data shows this resistance may have a significant impact on the effectiveness of medical treatments, such as antibiotics. In a 2011 study by the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that health care employees who were most likely to use hand sanitizers over soap and water for routine handwashing were nearly six times more at risk for outbreaks of norovirus, which causes most cases of acute gastroenteritis.
  • Hormone Disruption: Another effect of triclosan is hormone problems. The FDA says research shows triclosan may lead to hormonal disruptions and cause bacteria to adapt to its antimicrobial properties, which creates more antibiotic-resistant strains. Animal studies have shown that the compound could change the way hormones work in the body, raising concerns and warranting further investigation to better understand how they might affect humans.

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  • Weaken Immune System: Studies have shown that Triclosan can also harm the immune system, which protects your body against disease. Researchers at the University of Michigan School of Public Health found that Triclosan may negatively affect human immune function. Compromising the immune system can make people more susceptible to allergies, and more vulnerable to the toxic chemical Bisphenol A, which is found in plastics. In the study, children and teens with higher levels of triclosan were more likely to be diagnosed with hay fever and other allergies.

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However, though hand sanitizers could pose all these dangers based on its ingredients, we do not discourage its use.

Instead, since the areas posing the dangers has been identified, it should be properly managed.

NOTE: Use of hand sanitizer do not replace regular washing of hands.

By Ubong Edet

A passionate Health and Safety professional with a good level of field experience and relevant certifications including NEBOSH, OSHA, ISO, etc certifications. An Health and Safety activist who believes in the growth and continual improvement of the profession. He is going all out to create awareness and safe precious lives.

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