The use of hand-sanitizer in cleaning our hands is the best practice when there is an absence of water around. With the ongoing threat and the magnitude of the health risks of what we are facing nowadays, it is vital that after any touch contact, even a simple handshake, it is of utmost priority to wash our hands or to apply hand sanitizer.

Because most sanitizers are alcohol-based, they rely heavily on the effectiveness of alcohol. But what if the sanitizer actually made us sick instead of cleaning and disinfecting?

The FDA recently recalled nine hand sanitizer brands from the market due to methanol toxicity in their contents. It was discovered that they contained methanol, a wood alcohol that can be toxic once absorbed by the skin or when it’s ingested into our body.


Methanol (CH₃OH) is a colorless liquid with a light alcoholic scent that is classified as a nondrinking type of alcohol, and is also known as wood alcohol or methyl alcohol. It is mainly used in creating solvents, fuel, pesticides, foams, adhesives, antifreeze, and as a feedstock in producing substances such as formaldehyde and acetic acid. It is known to be volatile, flammable, and poisonous for human consumption, as compared to ethanol.

Drinking even15ml of this industrial compound is potentially, contributing why it isn't advisable for human consumption, whether alone or to be used in a mixed drink.


The demand for new environmentally-sound fuel sources is huge and has grown exponentially worldwide over the course of many years. That’s why the demand for methanol has shown an increase in development and usage.

Methanol as fuel – Known as a heating fuel in Europe before the year 1900, it was obtained using the destructive distillation of wood. The automotive industry is greatly influenced by this industrial alcohol. It’s mixed with unleaded gasoline to give smooth burning and better thermal efficiency in the engines.

Methanol as antifreeze agent – Ever wonder why the windshield never freezes? It’s because methanol has synthetic properties that allow it to lower the freezing point of a water-based liquid as it increases its boiling point.

Methanol use in formaldehyde – The combustion of organic materials and natural and anthropogenic action forms formaldehyde. Thus, it’s one of the most important compounds in the chemical industry. Methanol is converted into formaldehyde by catalytic phase oxidation over a catalyst of metal oxide.

Methanol in synthetic product material – Methanol has a wide range of applications in our daily lives. It is used in synthetic fibers, films, pharmaceuticals, as well as in high-performance plastics and plywood.


In almost every generation, a new type of disease emerges: the Spanish flu, AIDS, Ebola Virus, Bubonic Plague, SARS, MERS-CoV, and Covid-19 just to name a few. Thus as our communities are again plunged into a pandemic, the demand for health and safety reflected in the demand for sanitation. Thus alcohols, sanitizers, disinfectants, and purifiers have gained huge demand as they are readily available protection that one can attain over the counter.

The FDA recently notified consumers of recalls of several alcohol brands after discovering that these alcohol brands contain methanol rather than ethanol. Methyl alcohol is an industrial alcohol that is toxic to human health, where its misuse will lead to severe health risk or even death if not immediately treated.

Methanol poisoning occurs when a person is exposed to methanol through inhalation, ingestion, eye, or skin contact. Since alcohol is rubbed onto the surface of the skin through hand sanitizers and is also directly used as an antiseptic, it is a likely cause for those who are affected. Although it would still take some time for the toxic substance to take effect, ingesting methanol into the body is the most lethal route.


Methanol’s toxicity is caused by its metabolic products. It is an acid accumulation that enters the bloodstream inside the body. Once exposed to methanol, the patient will undergo an asymptomatic period for 1 to 72 hours. This means that one would not be able to easily see the effect. It’s important that when someone is experiencing pain or discomfort that consulting a doctor is a must in order to avoid any complications.

Though symptoms may appear differently in each person, some symptoms include:

  • Death
  • Blindness
  • Drowsiness
  • CNS Depression
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heart and respiratory failure
  • Eye irritation and redness
  • Skin irritation

Symptoms By Type

  1. Neurological – headache, amnesia, agitation, coma, and seizures
  2. Gastrointestinal – lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, severe abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver abnormalities, and pancreatitis
  3. Ophthalmologic – blurred vision, light sensitivity, visual hallucinations, partial to total vision loss, and rarely eye pain
  4. Others – kidney failure, electrolyte imbalances, hematuria, rhabdomyolysis, tachycardia, bradycardia, hypotension, and respiratory arrest

Methanol Poisoning: Treatment And Immediate Response

It is important to identify what brand of hand sanitizer the patient had sued. In this way, the doctor or medical specialist would be better able to determine the main source of the issue. In addition, having knowledge of first aid is also a vital help, in order to detect and take precautionary steps to avoid contamination.

  • Antidote prescription. Antidotes such as ethanol and fomepizole are effective against methanol toxicity and should be administered as soon as the person reaches the hospital or clinic.
  • For eye contamination, immediately wash the affected area with tepid water for at least 15 minutes. 
  • For ingestion, do not induce vomiting.
  • For inhalation, remove the patient immediately from the source, examine the respiratory function and pulse, administer oxygen if there is shortness of breath, assist with ventilation, or provide artificial respiration.
  • For the skin, use a decontamination method.


There are guidelines that the CDC and FDA have imposed on how much ethyl alcohol should be included in a sanitizer in order to maximize effectiveness. To lessen any pandemic and contagious transmissions among Americans, these guidelines are typically strictly implemented in any alcohol hand sanitizers.

CDC recommends concentration of 60-95% alcohol in relevant healthcare products.

The alcohol content in alcohol sanitizing products must conform to this standard. A higher concentration of alcohol could more easily eradicate germs and inhibit the reproduction of microbes.

Hands should be washed for at least 20 seconds.

Various campaigns are being run to educate people about the proper way to wash their hands. While one should definitely wash their hands after touching any germ hotspots, it is also in the best of habits to ensure one's hands are washed before eating and after using the restroom.

FDA policy of ethanol and isopropyl as the only type of alcohol in active ingredient.

Under all circumstances, the FDA's guidance on the formulation should be consistently followed and adhered to in conjunction with the World Health Organization's guidance.

CDC has no recommended alternative.

Alcohol manufacturers should strictly follow that alcohol sanitizer products should have at least 60% ethanol content, or 70% isopropanol content.


The world has undergone a lot of health risks and taken precautionary measures over the years. Continual discoveries and investigations have been conducted to further the study and increase the awareness of people about these germs.

But what can airDefender contribute to society? Hand sanitizers exist as an immediate, portable solution. However, it is important that we adhere to the regulations on alcohol content and condemn the use of toxic products such as methanol by the few companies who seek to simply profit from the pandemic or any health crisis.

Meanwhile, airDefender products has been an effective solution to microbe protection ever since the SARS outbreak. We only use CDC-approved ingredients, never using methanol or any other toxic materials that could endanger our consumer's lives. We are a brand that focuses on well-being and comfort, while promoting natural solutions that are both beneficial and eco-friendly.

Especially with this methanol poisoning that occurred, we must be more proactive in understanding the products that we use so that we can trust the products we use.

AirDefender can guarantee that:

Our product has been proven effective by the American Journal of Infection Control.

We have conducted several public and private laboratory tests that have shown that our product lessened the cross-infection rate in hospitals and public locations, decreasing and minimizing the rate of transmission.

Our product passed the oral toxicity and skin allergy test as conducted by SGS.

Only a few hand sanitizers are capable of killing all bacteria on the skin. Scented sprays can cause allergic reactions and can’t guarantee all-day protection. Meanwhile, airDefender all-in-one antibacterial face and body spray uses 100% CDC and FDA approved materials.

Our product make use innovative technologies.

Quantum Photocatalysis is the technology we use to ensure the level of antimicrobial solution and the latest in odor and TVOC removal that our competitors don’t provide.

24-hour protection.

Our solutions are crafted to give the kind of protection that many families want. Some products only give 5 or 8-hours of protection. But we make sure to protect each family for a long-lasting 10+ hours, even when they are sleeping.


Methyl alcohol is a toxic ingredient that should not be used on skin or consumed by humans though it has indeed made great contributions in industrial and toxic settings. It is important to maintain awareness of the harmful effects and disadvantages of this compound, but even more generally, it is vital to maintain understanding of any material or ingredient that makes up the products we consume in our daily lives.

September 23, 2020

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