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‘Go for quality hand sanitisers to avoid health issues’

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Recently, a team of European researchers said they had discovered that some brands of hand sanitiser contain cancer-causing (carcinogenic) ingredients that make them harmful for use.

This is certainly alarming, considering the fact that hand sanitiser has become quite indispensable since the advent of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

As one of the recommended measures to prevent the spread of Coronavirus and protect individuals from contracting the disease, various brands of hand sanitiser now abound in the market. The commodity has become a household item. In the case where soap and water are not immediately available, a few drops of hand sanitiser comes handy and are equally effective.

Dr. Anthony Nwaoney, an epidemiologist and Medical Director of Richie Hospital, said what the researchers’ findings portend is that there is need for caution when buying any brand of hand sanitiser. Care must be taken to ensure that the hand sanitiser being purchased is of good standard and from reputable companies.

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He said: “Hand sanitisers, long relied on to help prevent infection, have become extraordinarily important during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, not all brands are made to standards. Some may include harmful ingredients, such as methanolTrusted Source, which can be toxic when used on skin.”

Pointing specifically at a U.S-based online pharmacy, Valisure, Nwaoney explained that it was the company that sounded the alarm over batches of hand sanitiser that were contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzeneTrusted Source.

He explained that the online pharmacy consequently submitted a citizen petition to the United States Food and Drug administration (FDA), which regulates hand sanitiser, requesting the FDA to issue and immediate recall of the affected batches and update guidance to include an exposure limit for benzene.

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“Out of the 44 batches of hand sanitiser containing benzene, at least 20 (45 per cent) have product labels that indicate the use of additional ingredients to improve smell, taste or appearance, which do not adhere to FDA guidance,” Valisure wrote on its website.

It should be noted that experts recommend using products that contain at least 60 per cent ethyl alcohol. Additionally, they said this must not be ‘denatured’ to ensure its effectiveness, and to reduce the chances of its being contaminated with benzene.

On how Nigerians can ensure they are using good hand sanitisers that will not adversely affect their health in the long term, Nwaoney said they should go for hand sanitisers that are regulated by government.

So, what remains to be done in this case is to properly check the expiry date. In his view, there is no need to completely avoid all hand sanitisers for fear of buying harmful ones. It is just a matter of being vigilant and ensuring that the cancer-causing agents are not present in the brands of hand sanitisers purchased. This is especially important, considering the fact that science keeps evolving, thereby more discoveries are likely to be made

In the case of prevention and protection from Coronavirus, the only other effective alternative to hand sanitiser is to regularly wash hands with soap and water.

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