While soap and water are best, germ-killing alcohol-based hand sanitizer has been an important tool in trying to slow the spread of COVID-19. In general, hand sanitizer is a valuable stop-gap when conventional hand washing is not available or practical, but it does have its shortcomings. Even going back a decade or more, certain hand sanitizers have had major drawbacks that have rendered them ineffective or even dangerous.
Back in 2010, we wrote in this space that many hand sanitizers did not contain enough alcohol to kill germs effectively. Later, we cautioned consumers against fragrant and colorful sanitizers that were being ingested by children, leading to severe alcohol poisoning. And now, late last month, the FDA has issued an advisory warning about sanitizers containing methanol, which can be toxic when applied to the skin. Symptoms of methanol poisoning can include nausea, vomiting, headaches, and even loss of consciousness.
Stopping the spread of germs is essential to flattening the curve and slowing the pandemic. Part of your arsenal should be waterless hand sanitizer, for use when soap and water are not available. But be alert for potential issues from defective or dangerous sanitizers.
Growing up in East Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nolan Erickson began working at Church Wyble PC in 2007 as a law clerk. Now as an attorney with Grewal Law, Mr. Erickson has developed extensive experience with all phases of trial and pre-trial resolution of personal injury matters, including major auto accident, medical malpractice, and other serious injury cases.