The Allston-based Houghton Chemical Corporation has partnered with hospitals to provide hand sanitizer due to increased demand as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The family-owned company manages a chemical plant in Allston to distribute and manufacture chemicals for various purposes. One chemical they manufacture is ethyl alcohol, also known as ethanol, a key ingredient for hand sanitizer.
Bruce E. Houghton, president of the company, said he hopes to use the plant’s ethanol production to provide free hand sanitizer to those in need.
“We formulate things for our own product line, which include ethyl alcohol,” he said. “We have discontinued the product line and made it available for hand sanitizers for free.”
Hand sanitizer has been in high demand for months due to the pandemic, with stores and hospitals alike experiencing shortages. Though many hospitals are in need of additional sanitizer, local residents have said stores have seemed fairly well stocked, with some exceptions.
Catherine M. Snedeker, an Allston resident, said her supermarket is “really pretty stocked,” but noted that other stores may be running short on certain products.
“There is still the people, like a lot of places, that wipe out the aisles — the paper product aisles,” Snedeker said.
Houghton said getting the hand sanitizer to those who need it has not been an easy process, however, due to hospital rules and Department of Transportation regulations.
“We're trying to work with the healthcare providers and providing them with hand sanitizers, but we're constantly running into roadblocks that make it extremely difficult to do so, relative to hospital regulations, DOT regulations, packaging regulations, and all else,” he said.
“I’m now trying to work with the Mass. emergency response people to deliver the products under their auspices, utilizing the National Guard,” he added.
Houghton said the complicated process has been “frustrating.”
“It's slow and awkward,” he said. “It's very frustrating to have the product here and available and unable to provide it.”
Houghton said that, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, he is confident in his company’s endurance.
“We’re a strong and healthy corporation, which will survive this,” he said.