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

Sci Total Environ. 2020 Nov 10:742:140561. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140561. Epub 2020 Jun 27.


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.

Keywords: COVID-19: Human health hazards: Environmental impact of hand rubs; Hand sanitizers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Child
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Hand Disinfection
  • Hand Sanitizers*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States


  • Hand Sanitizers