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DoD reiterates FDA warning on using some hand sanitizers

Image of three men in PPE examining bottles of hand sanitizer. Click to open a larger version of the image. Crane Army Ammunition Activity employees examine bottled hand sanitizer prior to a 10-hour isolation before shipment. Crane Army was able to quickly and effectively meet the U.S. Army’s need and assembled a hand sanitizer production line in just a few weeks. Crane Army’s mission is to provide conventional munitions support for U.S. Army and Joint Force readiness. It is one of 17 installations of the Joint Munitions Command and one of 23 organic industrial bases under the U.S. Army Materiel Command, which include arsenals, depots, activities and ammunition plants. (Photo by Mallory Haag, Crane Army Ammunition Activity.)

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With the increased use of hand sanitizers, the Safety Office at Fort Jackson, South Carolina is urging the community to be safe when using hand sanitizers.

Gel hand sanitizers are flammable and consumers must be aware of their surroundings when using them.

According to a Federal Drug Administration bulletin distributed by the safety office, “an employee at Department of Energy Federal Contractors Group used an alcohol-based hand sanitizer as advised by hygiene recommendations. Shortly after the application to his hands, but before the liquid disinfectant had evaporated and completely dried, the employee touched a metal surface which accumulated a static electrical charge, resulting in an ignition source. The ethyl-alcohol based disinfectant flashed, resulting in an almost invisible blue flame on both hands.”

Ron Ross, safety manager with Fort Jackon’s Installation Safety Office urged the community to take extra care because “any incident is one too many.”

“We can never be too cautious, please exercise vigilance when using these gel sanitizers to ensure it is completely evaporated before touching any metal object and or other items that often harbor static electricity,” he said.

The FDA also reiterated in a July 23 news release its warning against using certain hand sanitizers that contain methanol.

The release states the FDA “continues to warn consumers and health care professionals not to use certain alcohol-based hand sanitizers due to the dangerous presence of methanol, or wood alcohol – a substance often used to create fuel and antifreeze that can be toxic when absorbed through the skin as well as life-threatening when ingested.”

Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, and permanent damage to the nervous system or death.

The full FDA release can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-reiterates-warning-about-dangerous-alcohol-based-hand-sanitizers.

The latest FDA hand sanitizer update can be found at: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-consumers-should-not-use.

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