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COVID-19 and frequent use of hand sanitizers; human health and environmental hazards by exposure pathways

Adeel Mahmood a , Maryam Eqan a , Saher Pervez a , Huda Ahmed Alghamdi d , Amtul Bari Tabinda b , Abdullah Yasar b , Kathirvel Brindhadevi c , Arivalagan Pugazhendhi c, ⁎

a)     Department of Environmental Sciences, GC Women University Sialkot, Pakistan

b)     Sustainable Development Study Centre, Government College University, Lahore, Pakistan

c)     Innovative Green Product Synthesis and Renewable Environment Development Research Group, Faculty of Environment and Labour Safety, Ton Duc Thang University, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam

d)     Department of Biology, College of Sciences, King Khalid University, Abha, Saudi Arabia


  • Alcohol based hand sanitizers are recommended by WHO as preventive measure of COVID-19.
  • Till April 2020, 7593 hand sanitizer exposure cases of children were reported.
  • Frequent usage of hand sanitizers results antimicrobial resistance.
  • Frequent usage of hand sanitizers enhance the chance of other viral diseases.



Article history:

Received 26 May 2020

Received in revised form 25 June 2020

Accepted 25 June 2020

Available online 27 June 2020

Editor: Henner Hollert



Hand sanitizers


Human health hazards: Environmental impact of hand rubs


Till date no medication or vaccine is available to cope with the COVID-19 infection and infection rate is increasing drastically across the globe. Only preventive measures and healthy life style with efficient immune system have been suggested by WHO to fight and stay safe from COVID-19. WHO recommended alcohol based hand sanitizers for frequent hand hygiene, which are mainly made up from ethanol, isopropyl alcohols, hydrogen peroxides in different combinations. These preparations may become toxic to human health and environment when misused. These chemicals have known toxic and hazardous impact on environment when released by evaporation. In early five months of 2020, American Association of Poison Control Center reported 9504 alcoholic hand sanitizer exposure cases in children under the age of 12 years and recognized that even a small amount of alcohol can cause alcohol poisoning in children that is responsible for confusion, vomiting and drowsiness, and in severe cases, respiratory arrest and death. Furthermore, frequent usage of said hand sanitizers has reported increased chance of antimicrobial resistance and chance of other viral diseases. Current review is designed with main objective to highlight the toxic and serious health risks to human health and environment by frequent using hand hygiene products with alcohols based formulations.

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