Last Updated on September 1, 2020 by The Health Master
Nearly 50% of 122 hand sanitisezs tested are adulterated
Nearly 50 per cent of 122 hand sanitizers tested in Mumbai and Thane are adulterated according to a scientific study conducted by the Consumer Guidance Society of India, the oldest consumer body in the country. Out of them, four per cent contained toxic methanol, which can have serious side effects like damaging the optic nerve and causing blindness.
The report released through a webinar showed that the alcohol content in 37 per cent of sanitizer samples purchased did not match its label specifications, 10 per cent were sold without any claims.
“An adulterated hand sanitizer is one that does not comply with its labelled specifications,” says Dr. MS Kamath Secretary of CGSI. “Most retail stores and pharmacies sell hand sanitizers. However, due to public health emergency posed by COVID-19, many unscrupulous manufacturers have entered this business to make quick money and take advantage of the scary pandemic situation.”
According to the study, the five hand sanitizers that contained methanol are ‘Instant Hand Sanitizer” from Krivi Herbals Pvt. Ltd, Medicare from Avon Laboratories, Misty Gold Equinox Industries, Sanitan from Aan Pharma Pvt. Ltd, and Clean Hands from Avadh Engineering Pvt Ld. “The sale of ethanol, which is used in a sanitizer is strictly regulated and impossible to obtain without an alcohol permit. The synthetic alcohols available are very expensive. Some manufacturers, to get over these problems, avoid using ethyl alcohol and instead use toxic methyl alcohol as a replacement (sold at half the price). Unscrupulous manufacturers could use branded container packing for marketers to sell spurious methanol-based sanitizers,” CGIS’s press release states.
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The organisation conducted the “Gas Chromatography” test in an accredited laboratory this month. Sanitisers are recommended by epidemiologists only if soap and water isn’t readily available or to compliment them. However, effective sanitisers are those that contain at least 60 per cent alcohol or above.
Check the label
The press release further stated that, “Consumers should ensure that they follow the warning prescriptions mentioned in the label. The drug facts label should mention details of the ingredients in the product under sale. All Over The Counter drugs must list the date of manufacture and expiry confirming its stability and safety for use. Store hand sanitisers in a cool place and out of reach of little children as even an ingestion can cause alcohol poisoning. Non-alcoholic based products are not effective against COVID-19.”
Dr. Kamath said that once methanol is absorbed into the body, which may happen over a period of several rubs, it eliminates very slowly. Symptoms of overexposure may include headache, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, blindness, coma, and death. “A person may get better but then worse again up to 30 hours later. Persons with pre-existing skin disorders or eye problems or impaired liver or kidney.” He said.
CGSI said they will be submitting their report to the FDA as well as the Centre.