Health Canada is recalling more than 50 hand sanitizers that contain ingredients “not acceptable for use” that may pose health risks.
The organization says hand sanitizers with “unacceptable types” of ethanol or denaturants have not been approved for use in sanitizers in Canada, and their safety and efficacy have not been established.
Denaturants are ingredients added to ethanol to make it unfit for human consumption to avoid unintentional ingestion of hand sanitizers particularly by children.
Health Canada said possible reactions to the ingredients include skin irritation, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches.
Health Canada has an evolving list on its website of 51 hand sanitizers that are currently being recalled and says Canadians should consult the list regularly. The organization says to stop using products listed, and to consult a health-care professional “if you have used these products and have health concerns.”
Health Canada says use of alcohol-based hand sanitizer should be used if soap and water is not available for proper hand washing.
Separately in the U.S. on Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report warning of serious adverse events, including death, associated with ingesting alcohol-based hand sanitizers containing methanol.
From May 1 through June 30, 15 cases of methanol poisoning were reported in Arizona and New Mexico, associated with swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Four patients died, and three were discharged with visual impairment.
Health Canada says frequent use of hand sanitizer containing methanol may cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches.