During the pandemic, the FDA allowed hand sanitizers to be made from cheap, low-grade ethanol, even if it contaminated them with benzene, a known human carcinogen.
Why Is This Carcinogen in Hand Sanitizers?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued temporary guidance in March 2020, allowing benzene in hand sanitizers at levels up to 2 parts per million (ppm)
The allowance was made due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which triggered unprecedented demand for disinfectant products like hand sanitizers
When hand sanitizer shortages emerged at the start of the pandemic, the FDA’s temporary guidance allowed manufacturers to produce the products from lower grades of ethanol
Valisure tested 260 hand sanitizer products, including liquid and non-liquid products; they found that 44 batches, or 17%, contained benzene
The FDA finally withdrew its temporary guidances for alcohol-based hand sanitizers on October 12, 2021, but it doesn’t take effect until December 31, 2021 — nearly two years after it was issued