Hand sanitiser used in some schools can cause headaches and respiratory problems

Department of Education says some of product contains methanol rather than ethanol

Schools affected by a hand sanitiser recall relating to public health concerns have been told they can close on Friday if they believe it necessary.

The Department of Agriculture, which issued the recall for the Virapro product, said its prolonged use can cause dermatitis, eye irritation, upper respiratory system irritation and headaches.

Some of the product contains methanol rather than ethanol, it said.

Hospital Report

“Tests by the Department show that some of the sanitiser on sale does not comply with regulations governing the content and efficacy of such products,” it said.


“Members of the public are advised to stop using this sanitiser with immediate effect. A Department investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

Suppliers of the product are on a list of 11 authorised to provide protective equipment to schools.

In response to the alert, the Department of Education told schools they could close on Friday, or finish early, if such action was deemed appropriate.

“The Department of Education is informing all schools of the need to check whether they have used this supplier and have stocks of this product. Schools should follow the advice of the Department of Agriculture to cease using it,” it said.

“On Friday 23 October schools that are impacted by this can make local arrangements to purchase stocks of hand sanitiser and can maximise the use of hand washing to support necessary hand hygiene.

“If a school that is impacted judges it necessary to do so, they can choose to close for the day or close early on Friday 23 October.”

It said any school having difficulty in sourcing an alternative sanitiser should contact the Department’s Covid-19 helpline or email.

“Additional funding will be provided to schools to enable them to purchase the necessary supplies from an alternative supplier,” it said.

Sinn Féin education spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire raised the matter late on Thursday night as the House adjourned.

He called in the Minister for Education to make a brief statement and give an explanation about what had happened.

But he was ruled out of order by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times