It's becoming more and more common in modern life, but how effective is hand sanitiser?
That's the question the US government wants an answer to.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is investigating the safety and effectiveness of active ingredients used in over-the-counter antiseptic products, including hand sanitisers.
The regulator also wants to know how much of the product is ultimately absorbed into the bloodstream -- especially for children and pregnant women -- and has proposed making it mandatory for hand sanitiser manufacturers to disclose data about how safe their products really are.
Manufacturers now have 180 days to comment on the proposal and a year to submit evidence about safety concerns and effectiveness.
The FDA's inquiry of the companies comes more than a year after it asked for additional data to check if antiseptics used in healthcare settings were as safe and effective as they were once considered.
The action is part of a larger ongoing review by the agency after a lawsuit settlement with the environmental group Natural Resources Defence Council (NRDC) in 2013.
The group had sued the FDA, claiming the agency failed to regulate toxic chemicals found in antimicrobial soap and other personal care products.
NRDC's senior lawyer Mae Wu said the FDA action was "long overdue".
"We need to know whether these chemicals are safe and effective," she said.
"We believe that the FDA has a wealth of data on hand sanitisers in their possession to judge them as generally recognised as safe and effective," the American Cleaning Institute (ACI) said in a statement.
"However, we will work to provide additional data as necessary to ensure the agency has the most complete, useful, and up-to-date information on these products," the statement said.
The ACI represents antiseptic ingredient and product makers such as Purell hand sanitiser-maker Gojo Industries Inc, Clorox Co and Procter & Gamble Co.
The proposed rule, which will be available for public comment for 180 days, requires that manufacturers provide information for active ingredients: alcohol, isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride.
Since 2009, 90 percent of all consumer antiseptic rubs use ethanol or ethyl alcohol as their active ingredient, according to the agency.
Newshub. / Reuters