Recent safety concerns have arisen due to harmful substances like methanol and 1-propanol being found in some hand sanitizers.

In response, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action by banning nearly 600 hand sanitizer brands. The FDA is now requiring that alcohol-based hand sanitizers entering the U.S. undergo methanol testing. To perform this testing, there's a need for methods that are affordable, quick, and easy to use, to check the levels of methanol and 1-propanol in these sanitizers.

Within the Texas Materials Institute at UT Austin, the Hutter lab took this project on: Dr. Tanya Hutter, Aminur Rashid Chowdhury, David King, Tse-Ang Lee, Dr. Umar Burney, and Dan Hutter.

Their published paper in Sage Journals, Detection of Toxis Contaminants in Alcohol-Based Sanitizers Using Infrared Spectroscopy, looks into a technique called infrared (IR) spectroscopy to measure how much methanol and 1-propanol are in alcohol-based hand sanitizers. They also compare two portable devices, one from Texas Instruments and another from NeoSpectra. These devices allowed them to measure the "fingerprint" of the chemicals in the hand sanitizers.

The Hutter lab tested 52 different hand sanitizer samples that contained varying amounts of methanol and 1-propanol, from none at all up to 1%. They used a special analysis method to understand how well it could spot these harmful substances. Their results were "really accurate - it's like getting a score of 99 out of 100 in a test." So, using IR spectroscopy with these portable gadgets can help make sure hand sanitizers are safe for everyone to use!