Hazardous effects of alcohol-based hand sanitizer on health and environment

– Dr Sanjib Pal
July 15, 2020

The United States FDA has recently listed a few hand sanitizers that contain methanol, a toxic substance that could lead to death if absorbed through the skin or ingested somehow. Some of these products also contain ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, which though safe to use, has some amount of methanol.

Dubai Municipality banned six types of hand sanitizers that did not comply with the approved specifications. The government launched an intensive inspection campaign to check the safety standards of hand sanitizers present in the local market.

The two examples mentioned above are not isolated incidents of authorities taking steps against alcohol-based sanitizers. The Indian government too brought a number of fake sanitizer manufacturing units under scanner. All of these are guilty of using methanol.

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic has seen the wide-spread adoption and sudden popularization of alcohol-based hand. The WHO recommended 70 percent alcohol in these sanitizers ensures effective protection against pathogens. The result? Exponential growth of this product, both in terms of consumption and sale.

However, experts are now waking up to the hazardous effects of alcohol-based sanitizers. Both for human health and environment.

The Harmful Effects

Alcohol-based sanitizers can be used anywhere, anytime to protect yourself from harmful microbes. A trusted arsenal against the spread of COVID-19, the products come loaded with components that are hazardous to say the least. Let’s take a look at a few:

Short-term and harmful

Ethanol, which constitutes about 60-80% of these hand sanitizers by volume, evaporates at room temperature. A single rub of these sanitizers is effective for just about two seconds. This is enough to kill any lingering viruses, but the protection is extremely short-term. The alcohol also strips away the outer layer of oil on the skin with repeated use resulting in an ineffective barrier against new waves of microbial loads.

Alter Endocrine Function

Hand sanitizers containing triclosan can compromise the endocrine function of the body resulting in long-term negative impact on health. Similarly phthalates and parabens in sanitizers can interrupt normal endocrine function.

Alcohol Poisoning

Sanitizers once ingested can lead to alcohol poisoning. Both children and adults are susceptible to this danger. There are already reports of individuals dying after accidentally consuming alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Flammable

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can compromise on fire safety norms. There is a CDC advisory for healthcare facilities to store sanitizers away from ignition sources. The flammability concerns have restricted the US postal department against shipping of sanitizers.

Unfit for Use in Religious Places

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers might hurt the religious sentiments of certain communities. Malaysia is already seeing the launch of independent halal sanitizer brands which can be used in mosques and other religious places. Certain mosques in India have issued restrictions against alcohol-based sanitizers.

The Efficacy of Molecular Iodine-based Sanitizers

In such a scenario, molecular iodine can become a safe bet. It is an age-old anti-microbial component used in medical practice. No bacteria or virus is resistant to iodine, so no drug resistant pathogens are created. As an effective shield sans the harmful effects, iodine-based sanitizers are environment friendly. I2Cure is one such product that comes from a long line of revolutionary inventions by Dr. Jack Kessler. This molecular iodine-based hand sanitizer is glycerin based offering optimum protection and hydration. It is a non-toxic and halal product. Use only two drops to ensure twelve-hour protection, anywhere, anytime.

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