Inexpensive portable infrared device to detect and quantify alcohols in hand sanitizers for public health and safety

Ng, Jee Kwan and Tay, Feng Huai and Wray, Patrick Steven and Saberi, Siti Syazana Mohd and Ting, Kenny Kai Ken and Khor, Sook Mei and Chan, Ka Lung Andrew (2021) Inexpensive portable infrared device to detect and quantify alcohols in hand sanitizers for public health and safety. Analytical Chemistry, 93 (45). pp. 15015-15023. ISSN 0003-2700, DOI

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The onset of Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in the exponential growth of alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR)/hand sanitizer use. Reports have emerged of ABHR products containing methanol, a highly toxic compound to humans, exposing users to acute and chronic medical illnesses. While gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) remains the gold-standard method for the detection and identification of impurities in ABHRs, there exist limitations at widespread volume testing. This paper demonstrates the capability of an inexpensive portable pyroelectric linear array infrared spectrometer to rapidly test ABHR and compare the performance with a benchtop Fourier transform infrared spectrometer and HS-GC-MS. Multicomponent partial least square quantification models were built with performance found to be comparable between the two spectrometers and with the HS-GC-MS. Furthermore, the portable spectrometer was field-tested with real-world samples in Malaysia on both retail products (Group A) and freely deployed public dispensers (Group B) between May and November 2020. A total of 386 samples were tested. Only 75.2% of Group A met the criteria of safe and effective ABHR no detectable methanol and alcohol concentration above 60% (v/v)], while <50% of Group B did. In addition, 7.4 and 18.8% of Group A and Group B, respectively, were found to contain methanol above permissible limits. The high percentage of sub-standard and methanol-containing samples combined with the frequent use of ABHR by the public highlights the need for and importance of a portable and rapid testing device for widespread screening of ABHR against falsified products and protects the general public.

Item Type: Article
Funders: Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) from the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia (MOHE) [FP0352019A]
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chemistry
Subjects: Q Science > Q Science (General)
Q Science > QD Chemistry
Divisions: Faculty of Science > Department of Chemistry
Depositing User: Ms Zaharah Ramly
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2022 10:29
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2022 10:29

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