Liquor Policy of States

How Dangerous is Methanol Poisoning?      


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Mains level: Preventive measures to avoid consumption of Spurious liquor

Why in the news?

At least 38 people have died after consuming spurious liquor in Tamil Nadu’s Kallakurichi district.

Key Points Related to the Kallakurichi District Incident in Tamil Nadu

  • Incident Overview: As of 9:30 p.m. on June 20, at least 38 people died after consuming spurious liquor in Kallakurichi district and 82 others were receiving treatment in hospitals. The tragedy follows a similar incident a year ago in Chengalpattu and Villupuram districts, which resulted in over 20 deaths.
  • Government Response: Chief Minister M.K. Stalin transferred the Collector and suspended the district superintendent of police. The State deployed 2,000 police personnel around the district. A one-man commission headed by former High Court judge B. Gokuldas was constituted to inquire into the tragedy.

How is Spurious Liquor Made and Why Does it Have Deadly Effects?

  • Composition: Spurious liquor often contains methanol in addition to ethanol. Methanol is sometimes added to increase the intoxicating effect and/or bulk volume of the homemade liquor.
  • Methanol’s Deadly Effects: Methanol is metabolized in the liver to formaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes. Formaldehyde is further metabolized to formic acid by aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes. The accumulation of formic acid leads to metabolic acidosis and acidaemia, damaging various organs and leading to potential death.

Why is Methanol added to Liquor and How is it Processed by the Body if Ingested?

  • Reasons for Adding Methanol: To enhance the ‘kick’ or intoxicating effects of the liquor and increase the volume of the liquor cheaply.
  • Processing in the Body: ADH enzymes convert methanol to formaldehyde.ALDH enzymes then convert formaldehyde to formic acid. The build-up of formic acid causes metabolic acidosis, optic neuropathy, cerebral oedema, hemorrhage, and potential death.

Is Treatment Effective?

  • Timeliness is Crucial: Early intervention is essential for effective treatment of methanol poisoning. Prompt administration of antidotes and supportive therapies significantly improves the chances of recovery and reduces the risk of severe complications such as blindness or death.
  • Available Antidotes: Ethanol and Fomepizole are effective antidotes that inhibit the metabolism of methanol to toxic compounds. Ethanol competes with methanol for ADH enzymes, while fomepizole directly inhibits these enzymes, preventing the formation of harmful formaldehyde and formic acid.
  • Supportive Therapies: Hemodialysis can effectively remove methanol and its toxic metabolites from the bloodstream, while folinic acid helps break down formic acid. These treatments, when combined with antidotes, can mitigate the damage to vital organs and improve patient outcomes.

Way forward:

  • Strict Regulation and Monitoring: Enhance regulatory oversight of liquor production and distribution to ensure all alcoholic beverages meet safety standards. Regular inspections and stringent enforcement of licensing laws can prevent the production and sale of illicit alcohol.
  • Public Awareness and Education: Conduct widespread public education campaigns to inform the community about the dangers of consuming spurious liquor. Awareness programs can help people recognize the signs of adulterated alcohol and understand the severe health risks associated with its consumption.

Mains PYQ:

Q Effectiveness of the government system at various levels and people’s participation in the governance system are interdependent.” Discuss their relationship with each other in the context of India. (UPSC IAS/2016)

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.

💥Mentorship New Batch Launch
💥Mentorship New Batch Launch