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Health Canada recalls hand sanitizers due to 'health risks'

Hand sanitizer. (via Getty Images)

Health Canada is advising Canadians that more hand sanitizers are being recalled from the marketplace because they may pose health risks.

The federal agency states that they either contain ingredients that are not permitted by Health Canada or are not properly labelled and are missing important information. 

In some instances, these sanitizers contain industrial-grade DA-2I ethanol, which is not authorized for use in hand sanitizers.

Consumers are advised to immediately stop using the affected products and consult a healthcare professional if they have used any of these products and have health concerns.

One of the most recently added products is the Helping Hands Ethanol Sanitizer 72 per cent by Porter's Tonic Inc., which contains technical grade ethanol and was sold before receiving Health Canada approval. The affected lots are also missing risk statements on the label.

According to a release, industrial-grade ethanol contains impurities that are not found in the type of ethanol approved for use in manufacturing hand sanitizers, such as technical-grade, food-grade or pharmaceutical-grade ethanol. Also, chemicals that may not be approved for use in hand sanitizers are added to industrial-grade ethanol.

Frequent use of these products may result in dry skin, causing irritation or cracking. Since industrial-grade ethanol has not been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada, the Department has not reviewed it for safety or efficacy.

A list of affected products can be found HERE. Health Canada says that it will update this list if it becomes aware of other affected products.

Canadians are encouraged to consult the list regularly for updates.

What you should do

  • Stop using the products. Please follow municipal or regional guidelines on how to dispose of chemicals and other hazardous waste. You may also return the product to your local pharmacy for proper disposal.
  • Consult your healthcare professional if you have used these products and have health concerns.
  • To help limit the spread of COVID-19, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizers if soap and water are not available.
  • Use hand sanitizers that have been authorized for sale in Canada. Hand sanitizers that have been authorized will display either a Natural Product Number (NPN) or Drug Identification Number (DIN) on the product label. 
  • Consult the list of hand sanitizers authorized or registered in other jurisdictions that may not display an NPN or DIN but have been accepted for use in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. This list of accepted products can be found here.
  • Report any health product adverse events or complaints to Health Canada.

Report any health product adverse events or complaints to Health Canada. 

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