Alcohol-free hand sanitizer ensures public safety

News reports of hundreds more being injured from contaminated alcohol-based hand sanitizer is today’s reality. Intentional abuse and accidental misuse of alcohol is occurring as news around the world indicates these new trends. Reports are from hospitals and public spaces with easy accessibility of free alcohol-based hand sanitizers from wall mount dispensers.

Does this open the door for legal liability to businesses and those who operate institutions?

Is there a better way to create personal protection from harmful germs and bacteria while reducing the risk to adults and children worldwide?

These answers reside in analyzing what has been made available to the public.


In 2019, after the FDA reviewed components of anti-bacterial sanitizers on the market and health risks that some ingredients posed, the agency declared three active ingredients in hand sanitizer as:

  • Ethanol alcohol (used in manufacturing of alcoholic beverages)
  • Isopropyl alcohol (used in household cleaners, perfumes, and radiator fluid)
  • Benzalkonium chloride (alcohol-free class of organic salts that can be synthesized)


As the world health crisis evolved, opportunistic hand sanitizer manufacturers chose profit over peace of mind for consumers worldwide.

Less than conscientious hand sanitizer manufacturers added scents, flavors, and used food and beverage packaging. This deceptive marketing that attracts children’s attentions resulted in a public warning by the FDA to avoid these products.

A grandmother recently deceived by a food puree snack package mistakenly gave alcohol-based hand sanitizer to her 18-month-old grandchild. This ingestion resulted in injury to the toddler. Children’s livers are not developed enough to process alcohol. This is why, in the USA, alcohol is a substance made available to adults ages 21 and over.

The alcohol content in hand sanitizers has increased as the world health crisis evolved. One government agency’s website now reports the recommended range of 60-95% alcohol content. Translated to what consumers ingest in alcoholic beverages, the equivalent is 120 – 190 proof alcohol. “Shots” of alcohol are measured in 1-ounce increments.

The FDA’s ongoing warnings of alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain harmful contaminants include methanol (1/3 of a “shot” of methanol can blind an adult, 1 “shot” of methanol can kill and adult) and 1-propanol (affects the central nervous system). Injury and death are reported from using and ingesting these contaminated alcohol-based products.

Poison control research data indicates the most common type of adverse health effects for hand sanitizer incidents were ocular irritation, vomiting, conjunctivitis, oral irritation, cough, and abdominal pain. Rare effects included coma, seizure, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, respiratory depression, and death.

Is it safe for children or adults to have free access to alcohol-based hand sanitizer from public wall mount dispensers?


Nowhere in news reports are contaminations, injury or death derived from the use of alcohol-free quaternary ammonium compound-based (quats, QAC) hand sanitizer active ingredient benzalkonium chloride (BZK).

Quaternary ammonium compounds are both an approved alcohol-free active ingredient in hand sanitizers and surface sanitizers. QACs were discovered more than 100 years ago and have been safely used in sanitizing for more than 90-years. QACs are prevalent in everyday use products including:

  • Hand sanitizers
  • Surface sanitizers
  • Anti-static laundry treatments
  • Detergents
  • Shampoo
  • Ophthalmological solutions
  • Baby wipes
  • Mouthwash and more.

Its scientific class of origin – quaternary ammonium compounds – are now proven by scientific research, supported by the science community, and recommended by governmental guidance as the “most widely represented class of sanitizer” to restore businesses and institutions to normalcy amid the world health crisis.


In the absence of soap and water, hand hygiene protocol recommends use of a hand sanitizer. The alcohol-free choice of benzalkonium chloride or “BZK” is more effective than alcohol-based formulations.

  • 4 hours: BZK’s effectiveness on skin per application
  • 20-seconds: Alcohol effectiveness is pre-evaporation “wet time” per application

Overuse of alcohol-based hand sanitizer results in skin distress presenting as rashes, and cracked, peeling skin. Applying more alcohol to distressed skin causes pain and degrades the skin’s natural protective “acid mantle” microbial protection. Therefore, it is counterproductive to attempt to protect skin with such a toxic substance.

Repeated use of alcohol-free BZK softens skin, however.

In conclusion, alcohol-free hand sanitizer ensures public safety.

For information on replacing wall mount hand sanitizer with GlanHealth’s alcohol-free formulations, visit