Is your hand sanitizer safe? The FDA wants to know

hand sanitizer

FDA to Investigate Sanitizer – Harmless/Effective


Presently alcohol based sanitizer seems to be all over the place and Food and Drug Administration needs to be aware of them. Recently, it requested more controlled proof to verify that the sanitizers could be considered harmless and effective. The FDA specifically would be investigating to check if the sanitizer could be harmful to pregnant women and children. Since it is being used by millions of Americans regularly and frequently repeatedly, these over the counter sanitizers are utilised to diminish bacteria when it is either inconvenient or impossible for hand-washing.

The agency has been inquiring with the makers of hand sanitizer for details on how safe and effective it could be not because it thinks that they are definitely unsafe but because they are being utilised so often that there could be some unknown side effects. Hand sanitizers which are over 60% alcohols tend to kill about the same amount of germs like soap and water.

However since hand sanitizer gels are not rinsed off with water, whatever chemicals used in killing the germs may tend to remain on the hands when the alcohol seems to evaporate. The agency, specially wants to be more aware about the three elements in these products namely ethanol or ethyl alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride.

High Concentration Exposure to Ethyl - Dangerous


Ethyl alcohol is said to be a primary alcohol while isopropyl a secondary alcohol. Though they seemed to be associated, they tend to have various chemical properties as well as absorbency. According to the New Jersey Department of Health, high concentration exposure to ethyl alcohol – PDF could be dangerous to the foetus while isopropyl alcohol – PDF could cause irritation to the eyes and skin. Benzalkonium chloride found in various products from burn treatments to spermicides to floor cleaners, tend to have antimicrobial properties.

As per the European Medicines Agency – PDF, Benzalkonium chloride, in the study of animalseemed to have lethal effects on rodents when taken orally in recurring large doses. The concerns of FDA are established on the independent advisory committee of the agency who had reviewed scientific data on these elements. But the federal agency has not yet asked for the products to be removed from the market.

FDA Responsibility to Determine – Safe & Effective to Consumers


The FDA had initially reviewed these antiseptics in 1970 and since then several things have altered, inclusive of how often people tend to use them. Moreover, latest technologies tend to detect low levels of antiseptics in the body and the FDA is more aware about how it could affect the health of a person.

The agency noted that over the past seven years, 90% of the entire antiseptic rub had utilised ethanol as their active element and additional information was essential to know about how repeated exposure to this as well as the other active elements would impact the body.

Janet Woodcock, FDA director stated that `it is our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so that consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day and to do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients’.

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