Author(s): P. Matatiele, B. Southon, B. Dabula, T. Marageni, P. Poobalan, B. Kgarebe

Source: Scientific Reports (2022) 12:4231.

Abstract: Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (CoViD-19), the World Health Organization has recommended that, in absence of soap and water, alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used to prevent the transmission of coronaviruses. Unfortunately, many media and anecdotal reports indicate that many alcohol-based hand sanitizers sold in South Africa are substandard and some contain potentially toxic ingredients. The study aimed to identify hand sanitizers used in the Johannesburg area during the CoViD-19 pandemic that do not contain the recommended alcohol concentration of at least 70% propanol or 60% ethanol, and contain traces of toxic ingredients. Hand sanitizers randomly collected from various traders around Johannesburg were analyzed using Agilent auto sampler coupled to a gas chromatograph utilizing fame ionisation detection. Of the 94 hand sanitizer samples collected, three preparations contained no alcohol, whereas the rest contained either ethanol, 2-propanol or 1-propanol or a combination of two alcohols. Of the alcohol-containing hand sanitizers, 37 (41%) contained less than 60% alcohol. Ethyl acetate, isobutanol and other non-recommended alcohols (methanol and 3-methyl-butanol) were also identifed. Consumers are therefore warned that among the many brands of hand sanitizers found around Johannesburg, there are some substandard preparations and some that contain traces of toxic ingredients.