Methanol – A Deadly Byproduct – The fermentation process used to make moonshine produces alcohol in two forms: methanol and ethanol. Ethanol is the drinkable version. Methanol, known as wood alcohol, is a byproduct that’s toxic when large amounts end up in the finished product,
- The distillation process that follows produces concentrated ethanol by boiling the fermented product.
- The problem moonshiners run into is ethanol has a boiling point of 173.1 degrees Fahrenheit while methanol’s boiling point is 148.5 degrees Fahrenheit.
- This means methanol evaporates at a faster rate than ethanol and can become concentrated.
When done correctly, it only forms in small amounts and is easily separated out and discarded. Without the right equipment, high concentrations of methanol can end up in the drink. What makes methanol so dangerous is the human body converts it to formaldehyde, an ingredient used to make embalming fluid.
Why did moonshine have methanol?
How is Methanol Produced in Moonshine? – via GIPHY Methanol is a by-product produced during the fermentation process of making moonshine. During fermentation the enzymes in the yeast are responsible for converting the fermentable sugars into energy for the cell.
Why does alcohol have methanol in it?
Background – Beverage ethanol production via fermentation is an age long tradition in many parts of the world. In the tropical world and elsewhere, indigenous people are involved in the entire value chain of traditional alcohol fermentation. Jespersen ( 2003 ) reported that most beverages and foods in Africa are produced at household level or on small industrial scale often of varying qualities.
Aiyeloga et al. ( 2014 ) reported the potentials of raffia palm wine in sustaining livelihood in rural and urban populations in Nigeria. However, in Africa, Asia and South America, there has been an increasing incidence of methanol contamination in traditionally fermented alcoholic drinks (WHO 2014 ).
Several cases of methanol poisoning have been reported in India and elsewhere. For instance in 2008, over 180 persons were killed in Bangalore and in 2009, 138 were killed in Gujarat, India. In 2015, 27 persons died in India after consuming toxic ethanol.
In 2009, 25 persons died in Indonesia after consuming fermented palm wine containing methanol. About 130 persons died in some India villages in 2011 linked to poisonous ethanol consumption. In Czech Republic, 127 persons were poisoned from contaminated alcohol, out of which 42 died (Vaskova 2013 ). In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) alerted that there have been increasing outbreaks of methanol poisoning in several countries including Kenya, Gambia, Libya, Uganda, India, Ecuador, Indonesia, Nicaragina, Pakistan, Turkey, Czech Republic, Estonia and Norway.
The size of these outbreaks ranged from 20 to over 800 victims, with case fatality rates of over 30 % in some cases (WHO 2014 ). Lachenmeier et al. ( 2011 ) evaluated the risk of contaminated unregulated alcohol in the European Union. In Nigeria, between April and June 2015, a total of 89 persons died following the consumption of locally produced ethanol beverage called kaikai/ogogoro/apeteshi or illicit gin.
- Aikai is produced mostly from the sap of raffia palm and oil palm and to a lesser extent from other palms such as date palm, nipa palm etc.
- Laboratory analysis carried out by WHO and NAFDAC (National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control) show that the beverage contain 16.3 % methanol, while the blood methanol concentration of victims was found to be 1500–2000 mg/l.
Victims exhibited symptoms of methanol poisoning including loss of consciousness, dizziness, weakness and breathing difficulties, blurred vision and blindness, weight loss, headache, abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting (Methanol Institute 2013 ).
- WHO ( 2014 ) reported that blood methanol concentration above 500 mg/l is associated with severe toxicity, whereas concentration above 1500–2000 mg/l causes death in untreated victims.
- While investigation is ongoing on the source/origin of methanol in the beverage, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) placed a ban on the production, sale, distribution and consumption of locally fermented beverage in Nigeria.
Enforcement of the ban was heightened in the months (June–August 2015) following the incidence, but as of the time of writing (November 2015) enforcement has slacked. But the ban on the age long fermentation processes could have major impacts on the local economy.
- For instance, over 50 million people consume palm wine in Southern Nigeria (Obahiagbon 2009 ).
- Raffia palm, which is among the most diverse and geographically widespread palm, is found in Africa, Asia and South America (Oduah and Ohimain 2015 ).
- The palm has many potential uses (Oduah and Ohimain 2015 ) but it is currently undertilized (Ohimain et al.2015 ).
Production of beverage ethanol from raffia palm provide a source of employment especially for rural people (Obahiagbon and Osagie 2007 ; Ohimain et al.2012 ). Aiyeloja et al. ( 2014 ) studied the potential of raffia palm in the sustenance of rural and urban population in Nigeria.
They found that raffia palm beverage value chain provides profit of ₦50,000–₦90,000 ($ 1 = ₦220) to producers and ₦45,000–₦70,000 to marketers. The complete ban on traditionally fermented beverages could be detrimental to the country’s economy especially at a time when most economics are under recession, with high inflation and un-employment rates.
Nigeria is currently experiencing an economic downturn due to low crude oil prices. Hence, there is the need to establish the source/cause of methanol in traditionally fermented alcoholic beverages. Methanol Institute ( 2013 ) reported that methanol is often deliberately added to alcoholic beverages by unscrupulous and illegal criminal enterprises as a cheaper alternative to the production of cheaper ethanol.
- This may be unlikely in Nigeria and many other developing countries where methanol is not domestically produced but imported at costs higher than the cost of alcoholic beverage.
- For instance, domestically produced ethanol (40–60 % alcohol content) is quite cheap costing ₦20 per shot of 30 ml i.e.
- ₦670/l as against ₦5168/l of 99.85 % methanol (excluding importation and duty costs).
Hence, there is need for research to focus on other possible sources of methanol in locally fermented beverages. WHO ( 2014 ) reported that outbreaks of methanol often occur when methanol is added to alcoholic beverages. Ohimain et al. ( 2012 ) reported that alcoholic beverages are produced in Nigeria using rudimentary equipment under spontaneous fermentation, which lacked effective controls and are carried out by uneducated rural workers with poor hygiene in an unsterile environment.
Traditional fermentation is carried out by mixed cultures consisting of yeast, other fungi and bacteria. Though, most of the traditionally fermented food and beverages are dominated by the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and to a lesser extent Lactobacillus (Jespersen 2003 ; Ogbulie et al.2007 ; Karamoko et al.2012 ; Rokosu and Nwisienyi 1980 ), the presence of other microbes can lead to the production of diverse products including methanol (Dato et al.2005 ; Shale et al.2013 ; Kostik et al.2014 ).
Several compounds could be produced during mixed fermentation with several organisms. Also, it has been severally reported that microbial fermentation of substrates rich in pectin can result in the formation of methanol (Nakagawa et al.2000 ; Mendonca et al.2011 ; Siragusa et al.1988 ).
Contaminating yeast has been demonstrated to produce methanol during traditional fermentation (Dato et al.2005 ). Recent studies have also shown that the ethanol fermenting yeast, S. cerevisiae has several strains with slightly different metabolism (Jespersen 2003 ; Stringini et al.2009 ; Okunowo et al.2005 ) with some strains possibly producing methanol.
More worrisome are recent studies showing increase in blood methanol level in some persons even after consumption of methanol-free ethanol (Shindyapina et al.2014 ; Dorokhov et al.2015 ). These authors recognized two sources of methanol in human systems, endogenous and exogenous sources.
Is methanol safe in alcohol?
Abstract – Methanol, a potent toxicant in humans, occurs naturally at a low level in most alcoholic beverages without causing harm. However, illicit drinks made from “industrial methylated spirits” can cause severe and even fatal illness. Since documentation of a no-adverse-effect level for methanol is nonexistent in the literature a key question, from the public health perspective, is what is the maximum concentration of methanol in an alcoholic drink that an adult human could consume without risking toxicity due to its methanol content? Published information about methanol-intoxicated patients is reviewed and combined with findings in studies in volunteers given small doses of methanol, as well as occupational exposure limits (OELs), to indicate a tolerable (“safe”) daily dose of methanol in an adult as 2 g and a toxic dose as 8 g.
The simultaneous ingestion of ethanol has no appreciable effect on the proposed “safe” and “toxic” doses when considering exposure over several hours. Thus, assuming that an adult consumes 4 x 25-ml standard measures of a drink containing 40% alcohol by volume over a period of 2 h, the maximum tolerable concentration (MTC) of methanol in such a drink would be 2% (v/v) by volume.
However, this value only allows a safety factor of 4 to cover variation in the volume consumed and for the effects of malnutrition (i.e., folate deficiency), ill health and other personal factors (i.e., ethnicity). In contrast, the current EU general limit for naturally occurring methanol of 10 g methanol/l ethanol provides a greater margin of safety.
Is methanol in alcohol safe to drink?
Methanol: Systemic Agent
CAS #: 67-56-1 RTECS #: PC1400000 UN #: 1230 (Guide 131)
Carbinol Methyl alcohol Wood alcohol
APPEARANCE : Colorless watery liquid. DESCRIPTION : Methanol is a toxic alcohol that is used industrially as a solvent, pesticide, and alternative fuel source. It also occurs naturally in humans, animals, and plants. Foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fruit juices, fermented beverages, and diet soft drinks containing aspartame are the primary sources of methanol in the human body. Most methanol poisonings occur as a result of drinking beverages contaminated with methanol or from drinking methanol-containing products. In the industrial setting, inhalation of high concentrations of methanol vapor and absorption of methanol through the skin are as effective as the oral route in producing toxic effects. The characteristic pungent (alcohol) odor of methanol does not provide sufficient warning of low levels of exposure. METHODS OF DISSEMINATION :
Indoor Air: Methanol can be released into indoor air as a liquid spray (aerosol). Water: Methanol can be used to contaminate water. Food: Methanol may be used to contaminate food. Outdoor Air: Methanol can be released into outdoor air as a liquid spray (aerosol). Agricultural: If methanol is released into the air as a liquid spray (aerosol), it has the potential to contaminate agricultural products.
ROUTES OF EXPOSURE : Methanol can be absorbed into the body by inhalation, ingestion, skin contact, or eye contact. Ingestion is an important route of exposure.
GENERAL INFORMATION : First Responders should use a NIOSH-certified Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear (CBRN) Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with a Level A protective suit when entering an area with an unknown contaminant or when entering an area where the concentration of the contaminant is unknown. Level A protection should be used until monitoring results confirm the contaminant and the concentration of the contaminant. NOTE: Safe use of protective clothing and equipment requires specific skills developed through training and experience. LEVEL A: (RED ZONE) : Select when the greatest level of skin, respiratory, and eye protection is required. This is the maximum protection for workers in danger of exposure to unknown chemical hazards or levels above the IDLH or greater than the AEGL-2.
A NIOSH-certified CBRN full-face-piece SCBA operated in a pressure-demand mode or a pressure-demand supplied air hose respirator with an auxiliary escape bottle. A Totally-Encapsulating Chemical Protective (TECP) suit that provides protection against CBRN agents. Chemical-resistant gloves (outer). Chemical-resistant gloves (inner). Chemical-resistant boots with a steel toe and shank. Coveralls, long underwear, and a hard hat worn under the TECP suit are optional items.
LEVEL B: (RED ZONE) : Select when the highest level of respiratory protection is necessary but a lesser level of skin protection is required. This is the minimum protection for workers in danger of exposure to unknown chemical hazards or levels above the IDLH or greater than AEGL-2.
A NIOSH-certified CBRN full-face-piece SCBA operated in a pressure-demand mode or a pressure-demand supplied air hose respirator with an auxiliary escape bottle. A hooded chemical-resistant suit that provides protection against CBRN agents. Chemical-resistant gloves (outer). Chemical-resistant gloves (inner). Chemical-resistant boots with a steel toe and shank. Coveralls, long underwear, a hard hat worn under the chemical-resistant suit, and chemical-resistant disposable boot-covers worn over the chemical-resistant suit are optional items.
LEVEL C: (YELLOW ZONE) : Select when the contaminant and concentration of the contaminant are known and the respiratory protection criteria factors for using Air Purifying Respirators (APR) or Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) are met. This level is appropriate when decontaminating patient/victims.
A NIOSH-certified CBRN tight-fitting APR with a canister-type gas mask or CBRN PAPR for air levels greater than AEGL-2. A NIOSH-certified CBRN PAPR with a loose-fitting face-piece, hood, or helmet and a filter or a combination organic vapor, acid gas, and particulate cartridge/filter combination or a continuous flow respirator for air levels greater than AEGL-1. A hooded chemical-resistant suit that provides protection against CBRN agents. Chemical-resistant gloves (outer). Chemical-resistant gloves (inner). Chemical-resistant boots with a steel toe and shank. Escape mask, face shield, coveralls, long underwear, a hard hat worn under the chemical-resistant suit, and chemical-resistant disposable boot-covers worn over the chemical-resistant suit are optional items.
LEVEL D: (GREEN ZONE) : Select when the contaminant and concentration of the contaminant are known and the concentration is below the appropriate occupational exposure limit or less than AEGL-1 for the stated duration times.
Limited to coveralls or other work clothes, boots, and gloves.
CHEMICAL DANGERS :
Methanol reacts violently with strong oxidants, causing a fire and explosion hazard.
EXPLOSION HAZARDS :
Mixtures of methanol vapor and air are explosive. Lower explosive (flammable) limit in air (LEL), 6.0%; upper explosive (flammable) limit in air (UEL), 36%. Agent presents a vapor explosion and poison (toxic) hazard indoors, outdoors, or in sewers. Run-off to sewers may create an explosion hazard. Containers may explode when heated.
FIRE FIGHTING INFORMATION :
Methanol is highly flammable. The agent will be easily ignited by heat, sparks, or flames. Fire will produce irritating, corrosive, and/or toxic gases. Vapors may travel to the source of ignition and flash back. Run-off to sewers may create a fire hazard. Caution: The agent has a very low flash point. Use of water spray when fighting fires may be inefficient. For small fires, use dry chemical, carbon dioxide, water spray, or alcohol-resistant foam. For large fires, use water spray, fog, or alcohol-resistant foam. Move containers from the fire area if it is possible to do so without risk to personnel. Dike fire control water for later disposal; do not scatter the agent. Use water spray or fog; do not use straight streams. For fire involving tanks or car/trailer loads, fight the fire from maximum distance or use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles. Cool containers with flooding quantities of water until well after the fire is out. Withdraw immediately in case of rising sound from venting safety devices or discoloration of tanks. Always stay away from tanks engulfed in fire. For massive fire, use unmanned hose holders or monitor nozzles; if this is impossible, withdraw from the area and let the fire burn. Run-off from fire control or dilution water may cause pollution. If the situation allows, control and properly dispose of run-off (effluent).
INITIAL ISOLATION AND PROTECTIVE ACTION DISTANCES :
If a tank, rail car, or tank truck is involved in a fire, isolate it for 0.5 mi (800 m) in all directions; also consider initial evacuation for 0.5 mi (800 m) in all directions. This agent is not included in the DOT ERG 2004 Table of Initial Isolation and Protective Action Distances. In the DOT ERG 2004 orange-bordered section of the guidebook, there are public safety recommendations to isolate a methanol (Guide 131) spill or leak area immediately for at least 150 ft (50 m) in all directions.
PHYSICAL DANGERS :
Methanol vapors may be heavier than air. They will spread along the ground and collect and stay in poorly-ventilated, low-lying, or confined areas (e.g., sewers, basements, and tanks). Hazardous concentrations may develop quickly in enclosed, poorly-ventilated, or low-lying areas. Keep out of these areas. Stay upwind. Liquid agent is lighter than water.
NFPA 704 Signal :
Health: 1 Flammability: 3 Reactivity: 0 Special:
SAMPLING AND ANALYSIS :
OSHA: 91 NIOSH: 2000, 3800
ADDITIONAL SAMPLING AND ANALYSIS INFORMATION : References are provided for the convenience of the reader and do not imply endorsement by NIOSH.
AIR MATRIX Allen TM, Falconer TM, Cisper ME, Borgerding AJ, Wilkerson CW Jr., Real-time analysis of methanol in air and water by membrane introduction mass spectrometry. Anal Chem 73(20):4830-4835.De Paula PP, Santos E, De Freitas FT, De Andrade JB, Determination of methanol and ethanol by gas chromatography following air sampling onto florisil cartridges and their concentrations at urban sites in the three largest cities in Brazil. Talanta 49(2):245-252. Leibrock E, Slemr J, Method for measurement of volatile oxygenated hydrocarbons in ambient air. Atmos Environ 31(20):3329-3339. Marley NA, Gaffney JS, A comparison of flame ionization and ozone chemiluminescence for the determination of atmospheric hydrocarbons. Atmos Environ 32(8):1435-1444. NIOSH, NMAM Method 2000 Methanol. In: NIOSH Manual of analytical methods.4th ed. Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication 94-113. OSHA, Methyl Alcohol Method 91. Salt Lake City, UT.U.S. Department of Labor, Organic Methods Evaluation Branch, OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center. Qin T, Xu X, Polak T, Pacakova V, Stulik K, Jech L, A simple method for the trace determination of methanol, ethanol, acetone, and pentane in human breath and in the ambient air by preconcentration on solid sorbents followed by gas chromatography. Talanta 44(9):1683-1690. Reichert J, Coerdt W, Ache HJ, Development of a surface acoustic wave sensor array for the detection of methanol in fuel vapours. Sens Actuators B: Chem 13(1-3):293-296. Tyras H, Spectrophotometric determination of methyl alcohol in the atmosphere. Z Gesamte Hyg 35(2):96-97. OTHER No references were identified for this sampling matrix for this agent. SOIL MATRIX Poole SK, Poole CF, Chromatographic models for the sorption of neutral organic compounds by soil from water and air. J Chromatogr A 845(1-2):381-400. SURFACES Almuzara C, Cos O, Baeza M, Gabriel D, Valero F, Methanol determination in Pichia pastoris cultures by flow injection analysis. Biotechnol Lett 24(5):413-417. WATER Blanco M, Coello J, Iturriaga H, Maspoch S, Porcel M, Simultaneous enzymatic spectrophotometric determination of ethanol and methanol by use of artificial neural networks for calibration. Anal Chim Acta 398(1):83-92.Martinezsegura G, Rivera MI, Garcia LA, Methanol analysis by gas-chromatography–comparative-study using 3 different columns. J Agric Univ Puerto Rico 69(2):135-144. Pettersson J, Roeraade J, Quantitative accuracy in the gas chromatographic analysis of solvent mixtures. J Chromatogr A 985(1-2):21-27. Wilson LA, Ding JH, Woods AE, Gas-chromatographic determination and pattern-recognition analysis of methanol and fusel oil concentrations in whiskeys. J Assoc Off Anal Chem 74(2):248-256.
TIME COURSE : Adverse health effects from methanol poisoning may not become apparent until after an asymptomatic period of 1 to 72 hours. EFFECTS OF SHORT-TERM (LESS THAN 8-HOURS) EXPOSURE : Methanol’s toxicity is due to its metabolic products. The by-products of methanol metabolism cause an accumulation of acid in the blood (metabolic acidosis), blindness, and death. Initial adverse health effects due to methanol poisoning include drowsiness, a reduced level of consciousness (CNS depression), confusion, headache, dizziness, and the inability to coordinate muscle movement (ataxia). Other adverse health effects may include nausea, vomiting (emesis), and heart and respiratory (cardiopulmonary) failure. Prognosis is poor in patient/victims with coma or seizure and severe metabolic acidosis (pH <7). Early on after methanol exposure, there may be a relative absence of adverse health effects. This does not imply insignificant toxicity. Methanol toxicity worsens as the degree of metabolic acidosis increases, and thus, becomes more severe as the time between exposure and treatment increases. EYE EXPOSURE :
Irritation, redness, and pain.
INGESTION EXPOSURE :
Ingestion of methanol may cause a wide range of adverse health effects:
Neurological: headache, dizziness, agitation, acute mania, amnesia, decreased level of consciousness including coma, and seizure. Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, lack of an appetite (anorexia), severe abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding (hemorrhage), diarrhea, liver function abnormalities, and inflammation of the pancreas (pancreatitis). Ophthalmologic: visual disturbances, blurred vision, sensitivity to light (photophobia), visual hallucinations (misty vision, skin over the eyes, snowstorm, dancing spots, flashes), partial to total loss of vision, and rarely eye pain. Visual examination may reveal abnormal findings. Fixed dilated pupils are a sign of severe exposure to methanol. Other: Electrolyte imbalances. Kidney failure, blood in the urine (hematuria), and muscle death at the cellular level (rhabdomyolysis) have been reported in severe poisonings. Fatal cases often present with fast heart rate (tachycardia) or slow heart rate (bradycardia) and an increased rate of respiration. Low blood pressure (hypotension) and respiratory arrest occur when death is imminent.
INHALATION EXPOSURE : SKIN EXPOSURE :
Irritation. See Ingestion Exposure.
INTRODUCTION : The purpose of decontamination is to make an individual and/or their equipment safe by physically removing toxic substances quickly and effectively. Care should be taken during decontamination, because absorbed agent can be released from clothing and skin as a gas. Your Incident Commander will provide you with decontaminants specific for the agent released or the agent believed to have been released. DECONTAMINATION CORRIDOR : The following are recommendations to protect the first responders from the release area:
Position the decontamination corridor upwind and uphill of the hot zone. The warm zone should include two decontamination corridors. One decontamination corridor is used to enter the warm zone and the other for exiting the warm zone into the cold zone. The decontamination zone for exiting should be upwind and uphill from the zone used to enter. Decontamination area workers should wear appropriate PPE. See the PPE section of this card for detailed information. A solution of detergent and water (which should have a pH value of at least 8 but should not exceed a pH value of 10.5) should be available for use in decontamination procedures. Soft brushes should be available to remove contamination from the PPE. Labeled, durable 6-mil polyethylene bags should be available for disposal of contaminated PPE.
INDIVIDUAL DECONTAMINATION : The following methods can be used to decontaminate an individual:
Decontamination of First Responder:
Begin washing PPE of the first responder using soap and water solution and a soft brush. Always move in a downward motion (from head to toe). Make sure to get into all areas, especially folds in the clothing. Wash and rinse (using cold or warm water) until the contaminant is thoroughly removed. Remove PPE by rolling downward (from head to toe) and avoid pulling PPE off over the head. Remove the SCBA after other PPE has been removed. Place all PPE in labeled durable 6-mil polyethylene bags.
Decontamination of Patient/Victim:
Remove the patient/victim from the contaminated area and into the decontamination corridor. Remove all clothing (at least down to their undergarments) and place the clothing in a labeled durable 6-mil polyethylene bag. Thoroughly wash and rinse (using cold or warm water) the contaminated skin of the patient/victim using a soap and water solution. Be careful not to break the patient/victim’s skin during the decontamination process, and cover all open wounds. Cover the patient/victim to prevent shock and loss of body heat. Move the patient/victim to an area where emergency medical treatment can be provided.
GENERAL INFORMATION : Initial treatment is primarily supportive of respiratory and cardiovascular function. The goal of treatment is to either prevent the conversion of methanol to toxic metabolites or to rapidly remove the toxic metabolites and correct metabolic and fluid abnormalities. ANTIDOTE : Fomepizole and ethanol are effective antidotes against methanol toxicity. Fomepizole or ethanol should be administered as soon as possible once the patient/victim has been admitted to a medical care facility. See Long Term Implications: Medical Treatment for further instruction. EYE :
Immediately remove the patient/victim from the source of exposure. Immediately wash eyes with large amounts of tepid water for at least 15 minutes. Seek medical attention immediately.
Immediately remove the patient/victim from the source of exposure. Ensure that the patient/victim has an unobstructed airway. Do not induce vomiting (emesis). Seek medical attention immediately.
Immediately remove the patient/victim from the source of exposure. Evaluate respiratory function and pulse. Ensure that the patient/victim has an unobstructed airway. If shortness of breath occurs or breathing is difficult (dyspnea), administer oxygen. Assist ventilation as required. Always use a barrier or bag-valve-mask device. If breathing has ceased (apnea), provide artificial respiration. Seek medical attention immediately.
Immediately remove the patient/victim from the source of exposure. See the Decontamination section for patient/victim decontamination procedures. Seek medical attention immediately.
MEDICAL TREATMENT : Antidotes fomepizole or ethanol should be administered intravenously as soon as possible to block the conversion of methanol to formic acid and prevent acidosis. Fomepizole is preferred as its efficacy and safety have been demonstrated, and its therapeutic dose is more easily maintained. Once the patient/victim has become acidotic, administration of fomepizole or ethanol may not provide much benefit, but they may be administered at the discretion of the physician in charge. Hemodialysis is the most effective form of treatment for an acidotic patient/victim. Folinic acid (leucovorin) should also be administered intravenously to increase the rate at which formate is metabolized into less toxic chemicals. DELAYED EFFECTS OF EXPOSURE : The most common permanent adverse health effects following severe methanol poisoning are damage to or death of the nerve leading from the eye to the brain (optic neuropathy or atrophy), resulting in blindness; disease caused by damage to a particular region of the brain, resulting in difficulty walking and moving properly (Parkinsonism); damage to the brain caused by exposure to toxins, resulting in abnormal thought (encephalopathy); and damage to the peripheral nervous system. EFFECTS OF CHRONIC OR REPEATED EXPOSURE : Methanol is not suspected to be a carcinogen. Chronic or repeated exposure to methanol is suspected to be a developmental toxicity risk. It is unknown whether chronic or repeated exposure to methanol is a reproductive toxicity risk. Methanol may cause birth defects of the central nervous system in humans. Chronic poisoning from repeated exposure to methanol vapor may produce inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis), recurrent headaches, giddiness, insomnia, stomach disturbances, and visual failure. The most noted health consequences of longer-term exposure to lower levels of methanol are a broad range of effects on the eye. Inflammatory changes and irritation of the skin (dermatitis), occurs with chronic or repeated exposure to methanol.
INCIDENT SITE :
Consult with the Incident Commander regarding the agent dispersed, dissemination method, level of PPE required, location, geographic complications (if any), and the approximate number of remains. Coordinate responsibilities and prepare to enter the scene as part of the evaluation team along with the FBI HazMat Technician, local law enforcement evidence technician, and other relevant personnel. Begin tracking remains using waterproof tags.
RECOVERY AND ON-SITE MORGUE :
Wear PPE until all remains are deemed free of contamination. Establish a preliminary (holding) morgue. Gather evidence, and place it in a clearly labeled impervious container. Hand any evidence over to the FBI. Remove and tag personal effects. Perform a thorough external evaluation and a preliminary identification check. See the Decontamination section for decontamination procedures. Decontaminate remains before they are removed from the incident site.
See Guidelines for Mass Fatality Management During Terrorist Incidents Involving Chemical Agents, U.S. Army Soldier and Biological Chemical Command (SBCCOM), November, 2001 for detailed recommendations.
NIOSH REL :
STEL (skin): 250 ppm (325 mg/m 3 ) TWA (skin): 200 ppm (260 mg/m 3 )
OSHA PEL :
TWA (8-hour): 200 ppm (260 mg/m 3 )
ACGIH TLV :
STEL (skin): 250 ppm TLV (skin): 200 ppm
NIOSH IDLH : 6,000 ppm DOE TEEL :
TEEL-0: 250 mg/m 3 TEEL-1: 694 mg/m 3 TEEL-2: 2,750 mg/m 3 TEEL-3: 9,300 mg/m 3
AIHA ERPG :
ERPG-1: 200 ppm ERPG-2: 1,000 ppm ERPG-3: 5,000 ppm
|10 min||30 min||60 min||4 hr||8 hr|
|AEGL 1 (discomfort, non-disabling) – ppm||670 ppm||670 ppm||530 ppm||340 ppm||270 ppm|
|AEGL 2 (irreversible or other serious, long-lasting effects or impaired ability to escape) – ppm||11,000 ppm*||4,000 ppm||2,100 ppm||730 ppm||520 ppm|
|AEGL 3 (life-threatening effects or death) – ppm||**||14,000 ppm*||7,200 ppm*||2,400 ppm||1,600 ppm|
Lower Explosion Limit (LEL) = 55,000 ppm * = > 10% LEL; ** = > 50% LEL AEGL 3 – 10 min = ** 40,000 ppm For values denoted as * safety consideration against the hazard(s) of explosion(s) must be taken into account For values denoted as ** extreme safey considerations against the hazard(s) of explosion(s) must be taken into account Level of Distinct Order Awareness (LOA) = 8.9 ppm IMPORTANT NOTE: Interim AEGLs are established following review and consideration by the National Advisory Committee for AEGLs (NAC/AEGL) of public comments on Proposed AEGLs. Interim AEGLs are available for use by organizations while awaiting NRC/NAS peer review and publication of Final AEGLs. Changes to Interim values and Technical Support Documents may occur prior to publication of Final AEGL values. In some cases, revised Interim values may be posted on this Web site, but the revised Interim Technical Support Document for the chemical may be subject to change. (Further information is available through ).
Can you get drunk on methanol?
What are the signs of methanol poisoning? – The earliest signs of methanol poisoning can be hard to distinguish from the normal effects of alcohol. You can develop mild symptoms similar to alcohol intoxication within an hour, along with nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
- After 12 to 24 hours, the more significant symptoms can develop, such as headache, dizziness, vertigo and blurred vision.
- The bad thing is that it takes 12 to 24 hours, and often people have been solidly drunk and sleeping,” says Gordian Fulde.
- Ignorance of the issue can also lead to misdiagnosis or critical delays in diagnosis.
If eye symptoms such as blurred vision or difficulty looking a bright light develop, then “they really are in trouble,” says Fulde. “That’s when they really need to do something.”
Is methanol more toxic than alcohol?
Methanol, sometimes called wood alcohol, is the simplest of the class of chemicals chemists call alcohols. Ethanol, the spirit many enjoy in beer, wine, and cocktails, is closely related. Both can be made naturally when yeast ferment the natural chemicals in grains and fruits.
And like all chemicals, both can be toxic when you are exposed to too much. But, when you consume methanol, the way your body metabolizes it makes it much more toxic than ethanol. Methanol poisonings were common during the Prohibition Era of the 1920’s and 30’s because methanol was intentionally added to industrially produced ethanol.
This was to prevent bootleggers from using it for alcoholic beverages. Ethanol treated to prevent it from being consumed is called “denatured” alcohol (so never drink denatured alcohol!). Because of concerns over possible toxicity, ethanol denatured with methanol is not allowed for use in things we apply to our skin, like cosmetics.
- Methanol in hand sanitizers used to combat COVID-19 has recently been in the news with the US FDA warning the public and recalling a number of ethanol based hand sanitizers contaminated with methanol.
- Why is Methanol Toxic, and How is it Different From Ethanol Toxicity? The answer to this question lies in the differences in what your body does to these two chemicals, often referred to as metabolism.
In the case of ethanol your liver first metabolizes it to something called acetaldehyde. Acetaldehyde is rapidly metabolized to something called acetate, a far less toxic molecule that is readily eliminated from the body. For the average person there is no significant build-up of metabolic products.
We hasten to note however that you can certainly poison yourself with ethanol if you drink too much too fast and overwhelm your body’s ability to get rid of it. Moderation in drinking is wise! Methanol on the other hand is converted first into formaldehyde and then into formic acid. High levels of formic acid cause a range of different effects including something called acidosis, where the acidity of your blood gets too high and a number of organs (like the kidney) begin to malfunction.
Formic acid is also a primary cause for damage to the nervous system (what toxicologists call neurotoxicity). Damage to the optic nerve and subsequent permanent blindness is a hallmark for non-lethal methanol toxicity. Methanol is a great example of how your body can actually make a chemical more toxic.
- How Much Methanol is Toxic? The lethal human dose of pure methanol is estimated to be about 2.5 ounces.
- This is the median lethal dose, meaning about 50% of people that consume this much may die.
- Consuming about half an ounce of pure methanol could cause blindness.
- By comparison, the lethal human dose of ethanol is estimated to be about 6 ounces for an average sized person.
Since alcoholic drinks are usually 45% ethanol or less, 6 ounces of pure ethanol is equal to about 14 drinks (assuming a drink with a 1 oz shot of a typical liquor). If a typical bottle of liquor was all methanol instead of ethanol it would only take about 1 drink to cause permanent blindness.
- Please note that these are estimates for comparative purposes.
- Bottom Line Methanol is much more toxic than its close cousin ethanol and is a great example of how differences in the way our bodies handle different chemicals has an influence on both the nature and the extent of toxic effects.
- But, as always, the dose makes the poison and just because something may contain methanol (e.g.
many natural foods) does not mean ingesting it, or being exposed to it through air or skin, will cause harm. https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ershdb/emergencyresponsecard_29750029.html https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1174890-overview https://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/iris/iris_documents/documents/toxreviews/0305tr.pdf http://prohibition.themobmuseum.org/the-history/the-prohibition-underworld/alcohol-as-medicine-and-poison/ https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-updates-hand-sanitizers-methanol