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TUCSON — The Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy received an influx of calls this month from Northern Arizona regarding hospitalizations due to toxic alcohols (methanol), reportedly related to hand sanitizer.

Methanol is a type of alcohol not meant for consumption used to create fuel, solvents and antifreeze. A colorless liquid, it is volatile, flammable, and — unlike ethanol — poisonous for human consumption.

Hand sanitizer normally does not contain methanol so it’s believed there may be a contaminated or homemade source circling through the affected communities. These products are very dangerous and can result in death.

“We are working with the state and county health departments to warn Arizonans and, hopefully, prevent any more illnesses and deaths from this,” said Steve Dudley, PharmD, DABAT, director of the AzPDIC.

“The sudden spike in cases has been seen in Apache County and Navajo Nation. We understand hand sanitizer abuse exists and while we never recommend ingesting it, now is an especially dangerous time for people to consume these products.”

If you or a loved one believe there has been exposure to any poison, medication or chemical, please call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center can assist in the evaluation and management and help determine if it is necessary to seek additional medical attention.

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