When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, it was all hands on deck. Many manufacturers had to re-tool and pivot to produce personal protective gear and cleaning supplies to help in the fight against the coronavirus.
Among those are a number of companies who received temporary approval to begin producing hand sanitizers. But not all hand sanitizers are created equal – and some have even been recalled. Beginning in June, Health Canada began posting recall notices, with more issued or updated in July and August.
Some hand sanitizers available on the market have been found to contain ethanol or denaturants that are not safe for use or have not been approved or tested in Canada. Some may cause dermatitis, skin irritation or cracking, eye irritation, upper respiratory irritation or headaches.
In April, the Canadian government authorized the temporary use of technical-grade ethanol in alcohol-based hand sanitizers. Manufacturers, however, must choose from a list of pre-approved suppliers and receive approval from Health Canada before making or distributing the product.
Technical-grade ethanol has more impurities than pharmaceutical- and food-grade ethanol and must be labelled appropriately, indicating what percentage of ethanol and that it is technical-grade, that it is for adults only, and that it should not be used on broken or damaged skin.
Many of the hand sanitizers listed below are missing proper labels and warnings, may not be approved to use technical-grade ethanol, or are not authorized for sale in Canada.