When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the United States earlier this year, many Americans flocked to the stores to stock up on hand sanitizers, disinfectant wipes, soaps, and other household cleaning supplies. Major retailers such as Walmart, CVS, and Target were out of these products for weeks due to the increased demand. Many Indiana residents probably found themselves buying these products to prepare for an unknown future with the virus. However, recent recalls have made clear that some of these products may have caused Indiana residents to fall ill, and may be implicated in future Indiana products’ liability suits.
According to a recent article by the Washington Post, federal regulators have recalled dozens of hand sanitizers because they contain dangerous and potentially deadly levels of wood alcohol, also called methanol. Many of these products have been available in mainstream retailers like Wal-Mart. The Food and Drug Administration has identified at least 77 products since June that consumers should avoid due to their methanol levels. Methanol can be toxic when it is absorbed through the skin, and can cause blindness, causing great concerns since hand sanitizer is applied to the skin and has been applied in large quantities since the beginning of the pandemics. The products are mislabeled, meaning consumers cannot tell which hand sanitizers contain methanol and which ones do not.
It is thought that the increased demand for hand sanitizer and other household cleaning or disinfectant supplies led to the unsafe products. In response to the demand, many companies began to increase their production, but failed to ensure the quality of the product would remain the same. As a result, hand sanitizers that were unsafe for consumers made it into the market. The Washington Post reported that at least seven people have died and dozens of others have been hospitalized as a result of the unsafe hand sanitizer.