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FDA Warns Hand Sanitizers May Contain 1-Propanol

27 Nov 2020

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has expanded their recall of hand sanitizers and found more chemical contaminants to include 1-propanol (n-propanol cas# 71-23-8). 2-propanol (isopropanol cas# 67-63-0) and Ethanol (cas# 64-17-5) are the two most widely used active ingredients in hand sanitizers. With this latest addition to the list, the main concern for exposure is ingestion (1). In a three-year period over 60,000 children under 12 years old ingested hand sanitizer (2). 1-propanol is metabolized via the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase to propionic acid and thereby disrupts the pH balance of the blood, while 2-propanol is metabolized with the same enzyme, however, the product is acetone leading to ketosis. Ingestion of both alcohols results in 1-propanol slowing down the breakdown of 2-proponal to acetone prolonging the sickness (3).

Our previous blog addressed the recall of hand sanitizers that may contain methanol. Using the same method conditions it's possible to analyze 1-propanol in addition to other compounds commonly found in adulterated hand sanitizer (Figure 1). Following the conditions below, we recommend eliminating 1-propanol as a co-solvent in the rinse vial and substituting acetonitrile instead. Figure 2 shows 1-propanol can be found as a contaminant in the blanks and samples.

Figure 1: The analysis of denatured alcohol with an overlayed chromatogram of 1-propanol. It is possible to analyze for a variety of alcohols in hand sanitizer at percent levels using the Rtx-VMS.

Figure 2: Trace amounts of 1-propanol can be found in samples and blanks when using 10% 1-propanol as a post rinse (see red text). Changing the co-solvent to a non-target compound is recommended.