Certified hand sanitizers can help reduce the risk of infection by, or spread of, microorganisms.
What’s the best way to clean my hands?
Health Canada recommends frequent hand washing with soap and water to reduce the risk of infection, or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. Acceptable alcohol-based hand sanitizers may use ethanol (also known as ethyl alcohol) or isopropyl alcohol (IPA) as the medicinal ingredient.
What are Ethanol and IPA?
Ethanol and IPA are manufactured in a variety of grades, depending on the intended application. For example, technical-grade IPA is used as a laboratory reagent or for electronic equipment cleaning, but may contain unknown impurities that are unsafe for human use. Some grades of ethanol contain denaturants, or varying quantities of impurities, such as methanol, benzene, or acetaldehyde.
Why is it important to check for safe hand sanitizers?
With the high demand for hand sanitizer during the current COVID-19 pandemic, high purity alcohol shortages have occurred in Canada. Health Canada has temporarily permitted some manufacturers to use technical or industrial grade alcohol in hand sanitizers. Due to potential health risks from impurities in such products, restricted-use conditions have been applied. Hand sanitizers containing technical or industrial grade alcohol must be labelled for use by adults only, with additional warnings to avoid use on broken or damaged skin, or by those pregnant or breastfeeding. Unfortunately, numerous manufacturer recalls have resulted in product lots containing unacceptable impurities, such as ethylacetate and methanol, or for mislabelling.
Health Canada’s “Approved” list
The Canadian government has done a good job monitoring the production of hand sanitizer to protect public safety. Health Canada maintains a list of approved hand sanitizers on their website. Although the list is not all-encompassing as a result of the overwhelming increase of submissions for approval, it’s a great resource. Just as important is the list of hand sanitizers that have been recalled. Reasons for recall include inaccurate labelling, unacceptable ingredients, unauthorization for sale in Canada, etc. A quick perusal of these resources can ensure you and your family choose a quality hand sanitizer.
So… how can I tell which sanitizers are safe and effective?
To ensure safety, efficacy, and purity, Health Canada requires approved alcohol-based hand sanitizers to contain ethanol or IPA manufactured to purity standards for food or pharmaceutical use. Quality standards and testing requirements for acceptable hand sanitizer alcohols are specified by organizations such as the United States Pharmacopeia (USP). USP sets standards for quality, purity, strength, and identity of many medicines, food ingredients, and dietary supplements sold in Canada and the United States. Non-medicinal ingredients in hand sanitizers, such as water for dilution of concentrated alcohol, or glycerol as a humectant (moisturizing agent), should also be of high purity, suitable for food or pharmaceutical use.
For children, ensure that your hand sanitizer does not contain technical-grade alcohol by checking the label. Talk to your children about hand sanitizer safety, like ensuring that they know the importance of not ingesting it. Even a small amount of ingested hand sanitizer can cause alcohol poisoning in children. To help ensure that the smell or taste of sanitizer won’t be appealing to children, look for the word “denatured” on the bottle. Be sure to keep it out of their reach, as well. Always supervise children when applying hand sanitizer.
Supply + Protect is proud to be a distributor of Novocol products.
Novocol Pharma Isopropyl Alcohol Antiseptic 75% Topical Solution hand sanitizer is manufactured in a Health Canada-licensed pharmaceutical facility in Cambridge, Ontario, using Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). The product is manufactured under the Health Canada-approved product license NPN 80099137, issued by the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD). The ingredients are pharmaceutical grade, containing 75% isopropyl alcohol (USP), glycerol (USP), and purified water (USP). A low concentration of food-grade hydrogen peroxide is added to help eliminate contaminating spores in bulk solution prior to being filled into bottles. The product is labelled for use by ages 2 and up. The formulation is according to the World Health Organization (WHO) isopropyl alcohol hand rub formula and is free of fragrance, without the use of gelling agents. The bottle’s size is 500 mL and sold in cases of 10 with dispensing pumps supplied for convenience.
Keep asking questions
As we navigate the pandemic, it is important to make clean hands a part of your daily routine to ensure the well-being of yourself, your family, friends, and community members. Take time to research the hand sanitizer you buy, and reach out to a reliable source if you have questions.