General Thoughts on Toxicity

Things to say about Toxicity.

All chemicals can harm you in large enough quanities. People have and do die from drinking too much water for instance. Safety is relative. One can put things into some perspective.

  • Chemicals can be
  • * Generally Safe
  • * Acutely Toxic
  • * Nasty Toxic
  • * Insidiously Toxic

Generally Safe: The hallmark of a non-toxic chemical is that it's harmless in small ammounts and you are unlikely to consume a enough to be harmful. Salt is Generally safe.

Acutely Toxic: chemicals differ from generally safe materials in that it's quite possible to ingest enough to cause harm. However, unless you consume a toxic dose, you're fine. Booze is a acutely toxic.

Nasty Toxic chemicals damage the human body in specific ways, typically by gumming up the works. Formic acid is nasty toxic. It destroys the optic nerve and attacks the pancreas.

Insidiously Toxic chemicals poison you over the long haul. Typcially these chemicals either do cumulative damage over time or slowly build up in your body until you have problems. Lead and Mercury are insidiouly toxic.

  • Things to say about methonol

    • The human body processes Methonol and Ethonol (Booze) via the same path way.
    • Ethanol and methonol are oxidized to Acetic acid and Formic Acid respectively by enzymes in the liver.
    • Acetic acid is a food stuff that makes food taste yummy.
    • Formic Acid is nasty toxic.
    • The body oxidizes Methonol into Formic Acid faster than the body can eliminate Formic acid. Thus it is easy to consume enough methonol to kill you.
    • Toxic effect of Methonol poisoning are almost entirely due to Formic acid.

Did a bit of research and found

As with ethylene glycol the major toxicity is not from the substance itself, but from the toxic metabolites. In the liver Methonol is oxidized to formaldahyde and then quickly to formic acid. In most animals formic acid metabolized quickly, but in primates formic acid is metabolized very slowly.

Methonol is an acute poison. And it's very possible for someone to drink enough to make them sick. Ingestion of .25ml/Kg is enough to make someone extreemly sick. Thatz about 0.5 oz (half a shot glass) for a typical adult.

Methonol takes a long time to be eliminated from the human body. Humans process methonol slowly and the breakdown product (formic acid) is processed even slower. The formic acid is very toxic and builds up over many hours.

It's the breakdown product Formic Acid that is what is actually toxic. Humans and Monkeys process Formic acid very slowly compared to other animals. (If you give a dog or a rat methonol they just get drunk)

Methonol doesn't seem to be cancer causing.

Pregnant women should stay away from it. Is an eye iritant in rabbits. Generally isn't a skin irritant.

Poisoning causes blindness which can be permanent. Blindness is caused by damage to the optic nerve which is especially sensitive to formic acid. Damage can be cumulative over a long period of time. (Not good)

Methonol and Alcohol are very similar. It's possible that someone can be poisoned and not know it. This is especially bad because the effects of poisoning can be delayed for 12-24 hours.

From the above I would tend to think that.

You need to treat methonol like the poison that it is. If you use it extreem care needs to be taken so that someone doesn't drink it. (Like because they used it for fire breathing).

Never put methonol in a drink container. (I know someone who accidentally drank took a swig of white gas out of a plasic water bottle labeled with a skull and crossbones)

Methonol should never be used for fire breathing period.

You should wear eye protection when handling or spinning with methonol. Ditto for people who might be sprayed by it. (I don't think that getting a drop in your eye will cause damage to the optic nerve as in acute poisoning, but um... who do you want to trust :>)

Given the above I wouldn't use it for anything but spinning colored fire in a show under controlled conditions, never for practice.

Don't store solutions of methonol and salts in metal containers. The salt will corrode the metal over time. Same applies to denatured alcohol and salts as well.