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Fake hand sanitizer could be dangerous. Here's how to tell the difference

But the FDA is warning there are dozens of sanitizers coming from Mexico that have methanol, which is wood alcohol or sterno.

The FDA is warning about dangerous counterfeit hand sanitizers. And there is a way you can tell if you have one of the bottles that is wrongly labeled. 

When it comes to keeping our hands clean on the go during this pandemic, we’ve been told hand sanitizer with 70 percent alcohol does the job. But now there is a new warning. The FDA says buyer beware.

"Methanol is one that is highly toxic and it can lead to a very tragic outcome and permanent blindness," said Dr. Jim Diaz, Professor of Public Health and Head of Environmental and Occupational Health at LSU Health Sciences Center. 

Dr. Diaz says there are many kinds of alcohol. The two that are acceptable in hand sanitizers are ethanol alcohol, that’s the one found in liquor, or isopropyl alcohol, which is rubbing alcohol. 

But the FDA is warning there are dozens of sanitizers coming from Mexico that have methanol, which is wood alcohol or sterno. 

"It actually burns and it was used to put under chafing dishes. It’s also used as an industrial solvent and a pesticide. It is an alcohol, however it is highly poisonous." 

And he says they are labeled as having one of the acceptable alcohols in them. The FDA caught this when testing them. 

"If a child were to drink it, well initially they would have nausea, vomiting and then they would get inebriated or intoxicated and then they may have a seizure and coma. If they are lucky enough to survive the acute poisoning, they may be permanently blind," he said.

It can be absorbed through the skin, But Dr. Diaz says that would take a lot of exposure to make you sick. To protect yourself from these wrongly labeled products, Dr. Diaz says check for the manufacturer and don’t buy them. 

"If it’s Esk Biochem or another company called Blumen, I would avoid any products made by those companies."

And he further warns that young children like the sweet taste of aloe vera in any kind of hand sanitizer and very serious injuries have happened when they accidentally drink them. 

Dr. Diaz says there have been several children in the U.S. who have almost died from alcohol poisoning from accidentally drinking hand sanitizer.

To see the list of products the FDA is recalling, click here.

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