Dr. Woodrow C. Monte’s Methanol Research – University Of Arizona - Part 5

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birth defects in laboratory animals. even the staunchest critic of formaldehyde involvement in methanol toxicity admits:

"It is not possible to completely eliminate formaldehyde as a toxic intermediate because formaldehyde could be formed slowly within cells and interfere with normal cellular function without ever obtaining levels that are detectable in body fluid or tissues."34

Acute Toxicity in man "Toxic Syndrome"

A striking feature of methyl alcohol syndrome the asymptomatic interval (latent period) which usually lasts 12 to 18 hours after consumption. This is followed by a rapid and severe acidosis caused partially by the production of formic acid. Insufficient formic acid is generated to account for the severity of metabolic acidosis produced and, therefore, other organic acids may be involved.

Patients may complain of lethargy, confusion, and impairment of articulation, all frequently encountered signs in moderate central nervous system (CNS) intoxications resulting from other toxic compounds.

Patients may also suffer leg cramps, back pain, severe headache, abdominal pain, labored breathing, vertigo and visual loss, the latter being a very important clue to making a diagnosis of methanol poisoning. Other striking clinical features associated only with the oral administration of methanol are elevated serum amylase are the finding of pancreatitis or pancreatic necrosis on autopsy.

In fatal cases liver, kidneys and heart may show parenchymatous degeneration. the lungs show desquamation of epithelium, emphysema, edema, congestion and bronchial pneumonia.

Chronic Human Exposure

This is the most important aspect of methanol toxicity to those who are interested in observing the effect of increased methanol consumption on a population.

The data presented here were compiled by the Public Health Service. The individuals studied were working in methanol contaminated environments. It is interesting to note that the visual signs always associated with acute toxicity often do not surface under chronic conditions.

Many of the signs and symptoms of intoxication due to methanol ingestion are not specific to methyl alcohol. For example, headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea and unsteady gait (inebriation), gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the lower extremities hands and...


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