Maintaining proper hygiene during the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is key to preventing the spread of the infectious disease. And if you don’t have access to soap and running water, health experts recommend the use of hand sanitizer.
by Zoey Sky
But according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Americans should avoid a popular brand of hand sanitizer because it contains dangerous cancer-causing ingredients.
FDA: Beware ArtNaturals hand sanitizer
In a statement, the FDA warns that it has found “unacceptable levels of benzene, acetaldehyde and acetal contaminants” in several of ArtNaturals (stylized artnaturals) scent-free hand sanitizers. The sanitizers are labeled with “DIST. by artnaturals Gardena, CA 90248.”
While the exact risk from using hand sanitizer containing benzene, acetaldehyde or acetal remains unknown, data has found that benzene is a chemical that can cause certain types of cancer. Acetaldehyde can also cause “serious illness or death,” the FDA says.
Acetal can cause irritation in the upper respiratory tract, the eyes and the skin, adds the agency.
The FDA says it has tried to contact ArtNaturals several times to discuss the sanitizers, “including identification of the manufacturer, possible recalls and the scope of the contamination” but the company hasn’t replied as of Monday, Oct.4.
ArtNaturals has been added to the agency’s rolling list of potentially dangerous hand sanitizers. The FDA first devised the list in the early days of the pandemic after many reports of sanitizers testing positive for various harmful and potentially poisonous ingredients. To date, the list includes 260 dangerous products.
The FDA has also noticed a sharp increase in products that tested positive for methanol contamination, another dangerous ingredient for hand sanitizers that has been linked to various toxic effects.
Methanol or wood alcohol is a toxic substance that can cause serious side effects when absorbed through the skin. If swallowed accidentally, methanol can cause blindness or death.
If you have hand sanitizers that contains methanol, stop using it and dispose of the product in a hazardous waste container. These hand sanitizers contain significant amounts of methanol so you should not pour the products down the drain or flush them.
If you have been exposed to hand sanitizer with potential methanol contamination, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Blurred vision
- Permanent blindness
- Permanent damage to the nervous system
Methanol exposure may also result in death. If a family member is experiencing some of these symptoms, seek emergency medical treatment immediately for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.
Making DIY hand sanitizer at home
Here are some recipes that you can follow to make non-toxic DIY hand sanitizer and disposable disinfecting wipes.
DIY hand sanitizer
This naturally scented hand sanitizer contains ingredients that are antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal.
You will need:
- 30 Drops tea tree essential oil
- 5-10 Drops lavender essential oil
- 3 Ounces ethyl alcohol 90 percent or 91 percent isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
- 1 Ounce aloe vera gel
- 1/4 Teaspoon vitamin E oil (This will help keep your hands moisturized.)
- Pour the essential oils and vitamin E oil to a small glass bowl or container. Swirl to mix.
- Add the alcohol to the oil mixture and swirl again.
- Add the aloe vera gel to the liquids and mix well. Pour the mixture into a colored plastic bottle with a pump dispenser and shake gently before each use. The hand sanitizer should last several months since the vitamin E and alcohol will help preserve the mixture.
If you prefer a hand sanitizer spray, use witch hazel instead of aloe vera gel while following the recipe. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle instead of a plastic bottle with a pump dispenser.
DIY disposable disinfecting wipes
Try this recipe to make disposable disinfecting wipes using paper towels and a bit of bleach.
You will need:
- A roll of paper towels
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons of bleach
- Cut the roll of paper towels in half horizontally so you have two toilet paper-sized rolls.
- Mix the water and the two tablespoons of bleach in a small bowl.
- Place one paper towel roll flat into an airtight container, then pour the bleach solution over the top. Make sure the container is large enough to hold all the liquid while keeping all the paper towels fully saturated.
- Remove the cardboard center roll and pull out fresh paper towels from the middle of the DIY disinfecting wipes.
Wash you hands thoroughly to prevent the spread of viruses and don’t buy hand sanitizers from ArtNaturals to avoid cancer-causing chemicals like benzene and acetal contaminants.