Is your hand sanitizer safe?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are everywhere these days, and the Food and Drug Administration wants to know more about them. It requested more scientific evidence Wednesday to prove that hand sanitizers are both safe and effective.

In particular, the FDA will be investigating whether sanitizers might be harmful to pregnant women and children.
Used by millions of Americans daily and often repeatedly, over-the-counter sanitizers are meant to reduce bacteria when hand-washing is either inconvenient or impossible.
Specifically, the agency wants to know more about three ingredients in these products: ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride.
Ethyl alcohol is a primary alcohol and isopropyl a secondary alcohol; though related, they have different chemical properties and absorbency. High-concentration exposure to ethyl alcohol may harm a fetus, while isopropyl alcohol can irritate the eyes and skin, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
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