Why Spurious Liquor Kills

Why Spurious Liquor Kills


  • Up to 22 persons have already passed away in Tamil Nadu’s Chengalpattu and Villupuram districts from imbibing fake alcohol as of 10 p.m. on May 16, while more than 30 others were still receiving medical attention.
  • The methanol in fake alcohol is what gives it its deadliness. As a result of consuming various fruits, the human body naturally contains negligible amounts of methanol (4.5 ppm in the breath of healthy people, according to a 2006 study). However, more than 0.1 ml of pure methanol per kilogramme of body weight can be deadly, even for an adult.
  • According to the 1959 Denatured Spirit, Methyl Alcohol, and Varnish (French Polish) Rules of Tamil Nadu, licences are required for the production, export, import, storage, and sale of methanol.

What is the alcohol in liquor?

  • The alcohol level of various alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine, and spirits, varies; it ranges from around 5% in beer to over 40% in distilled spirits.
  • These drinks contain ethanol, a psychoactive substance, which is what gives them their intoxicating properties.
  • According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), no amount of alcohol use is beneficial to health.

  • In the body, ethanol is metabolised in two steps with the aid of enzymes.

a.)The enzymes known as alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) turn ethanol into acetaldehyde.

b.) Acetaldehyde is further metabolised into acetate by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes.

  • The negative effects of alcohol use are caused by the intermediate metabolite acetaldehyde.
  • Hangovers and a higher risk of cancer are just a few of the negative effects.
  • Acetaldehyde is poisonous and has been linked to cancer.
  • Long-term and excessive alcohol intake can overwhelm the body’s capacity to effectively metabolise acetaldehyde, which can result in health issues such as liver damage, cardiovascular problems, and an elevated risk of cancer.
  • Individual differences in the metabolism of alcohol can affect tolerance and vulnerability to alcohol-related health issues.
  • The context and drinking habits, such as binge drinking or chronic heavy drinking, can have a big impact on the dangers of ethanol use.
  • The WHO’s claim that there is no safe amount of alcohol intake highlights the dangers and risks associated with alcohol and implies that eliminating alcohol totally eliminates these dangers.

What is spurious liquor?

  • Alcohol that has been altered or produced illegally and may contain additives like methanol is referred to as spurious spirits.
  • When drunk in large quantities, the poisonous form of alcohol known as methanol can have detrimental effects on one’s health.
  • The occurrences in Villupuram and Chengalpattu used fake alcohol that contained methanol.
  • Police investigations have shown that the fake alcohol used in both incidences came from the same source.
  • It was discovered that vendors of arrack added methanol of industrial quality to the booze they sold by buying it from factories.
  • Homemade alcoholic beverages, like arrack, frequently contain methanol to boost their volume or intoxicating properties.
  • In India, the Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations of 2018 set maximum allowable levels for the presence of methanol in various alcoholic beverages.
  • Methanol abuse can cause fatal health problems, vision loss, organ damage, and other major health problems.
  • Authorities work to uphold safety standards and lessen the risks connected with ingesting spurious or tainted alcohol by establishing maximum limits for methanol content.

How can such poisoning be treated?

  • When consumed, methanol is entirely absorbed by the digestive system. The blood methanol level might rise to its highest level in 90 minutes.
  • Alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes in the body break down methanol, producing the highly deadly chemical formaldehyde in the process.
  • If untreated, methanol intoxication can be fatal because formaldehyde can seriously harm many different organs.
  • ethanol and fomepizole are the two main treatments for methanol poisoning:
  • Ethanol: When healthcare professionals deliver pharmaceutical-grade ethanol, it competes with methanol for the ADH enzymes. Methanol’s toxicity is decreased because of this competition, which stops it from being metabolised into formaldehyde. Due to its potential negative effects, ethanol must be provided under supervision and necessitates careful monitoring.
  • b. Fomepizole: This antidote was created especially to treat methanol intoxication. It slows down the metabolism of methanol by blocking the activity of ADH enzymes. As a result, the body has more time to rid itself of methanol naturally. Due to its focused efficacy and decreased negative effects, foamepizole is typically chosen to ethanol. It may also not be readily available in all healthcare settings and can be more expensive.