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26-June-2024-Editorial

June 26 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

KALLAKURICHI HOOCH TRAGEDY: FERMENTED WITH METHANOL AND APATHY 

Hooch is a widely used term for low-quality alcohol. The word “hooch” originates from the Hoochinoo tribe in Alaska, known for producing strong liquor. Hooch is often produced in unregulated and unsanitary conditions, making it risky to consume. 

Production Process of Hooch 

Fermentation: 

  • Begins with a sugary substance like fruits, grains, or sugarcane. 
  • Yeast is added to ferment the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. 

Distillation (Optional): 

  • Distillation raises the alcohol content by heating the fermented mixture. 
  • Alcohol evaporates first due to its lower boiling point, and the vapor is captured and condensed back into a liquid. 
  • Results in a stronger alcohol concentration compared to beer or wine. 

 

Alcohol Content in Liquor 

Ethanol: 

  • The type of alcohol commonly found in beverages and is responsible for intoxication. 
  • Chemically represented as C2H5OH, consisting of two carbon atoms, six hydrogen atoms, and one hydroxyl group (OH-). 

Alcohol Content: 

  • Liquor is differentiated by its alcohol content. 
  • Beer: ~5% alcohol. 
  • Distilled spirits (e.g., vodka, whiskey): ~40% alcohol. 

Metabolism: 

  • Ethanol is metabolized in the liver and stomach by alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) enzymes into acetaldehyde. 
  • Aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) enzymes further convert acetaldehyde into acetate. 

Spurious Liquor 

Definition: 

  • Fake or counterfeit alcohol often made at home. 
  • Methanol is sometimes added to make the alcohol stronger or increase the quantity. 

Risks: 

  • Hooch production carries inherent risks due to the presence of toxic methanol along with consumable ethanol. 

Regulation 

Regulatory Standards: 

The Food Safety and Standards (Alcoholic Beverages) Regulations 2018 specify the maximum allowable amount of methanol in various liquors. 

Permissible methanol quantities: 

  • Absent in coconut fenny. 
  • 50 grams per 100 liters of country liquor. 
  • 300 grams per 100 liters in pot-distilled spirits. 

Key Facts About Methanol 

Methanol (CH3OH): 

A simple alcohol molecule with one carbon atom, three hydrogen atoms, and one hydroxyl group (OH). 

Regulations: 

  • Listed under Schedule I of the Manufacture, Storage, and Import of Hazardous Chemical Rules, 1989 in India. 
  • Indian Standard IS 517 specifies the quality determination of methanol. 

Industrial Production: 

  • Produced by combining carbon monoxide and hydrogen with copper and zinc oxide catalysts under high pressure and temperature. 
  • Historically produced through the destructive distillation of wood, known since ancient Egypt. 

Uses: 

  • Precursor in the production of acetic acid, formaldehyde, and aromatic hydrocarbons. 
  • Utilized as a solvent, antifreeze, and in numerous industrial processes. 

Effects of Methanol on the Human Body 

Metabolic Acidosis: 

  • Methanol is broken down into toxic byproducts, primarily formic acid. 
  • Formic acid disrupts the body’s pH balance, leading to metabolic acidosis (excessive acid production). 
  • Makes blood more acidic, hindering its function. 

Cellular Oxygen Deprivation: 

  • Formic acid interferes with cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme crucial for cellular respiration. 
  • Disrupts cells’ ability to use oxygen, leading to lactic acid buildup and further acidosis. 

Vision Impairment: 

  • Methanol can damage the optic nerve and retina. 
  • Can cause methanol-induced optic neuropathy, leading to permanent vision problems, including blindness. 

Brain Damage: 

  • Can cause cerebral edema (fluid buildup in the brain) and hemorrhage (bleeding). 
  • Can lead to coma and death. 

Treatment for Methanol Poisoning 

Pharmaceutical-Grade Ethanol: 

  • Competes with methanol for the same ADH enzymes in the liver. 
  • Prevents methanol from being converted into toxic formic acid by being processed faster. 

Fomepizole: 

  • Binds to ADH enzymes, slowing down methanol’s metabolism to formic acid. 
  • Allows the body to eliminate methanol before causing serious harm. 

Dialysis: 

  • Removes methanol and its toxic byproducts (formic acid salts) directly from the bloodstream. 
  • Helps protect kidneys and retina from damage. 

Folinic Acid: 

  • Helps the body break down formic acid into less harmful substances like carbon dioxide and water. 

Conclusion 

Understanding the dangers of hooch and spurious liquor is crucial due to the severe health risks, including death. Regulating and controlling the production and distribution of alcohol can help prevent such tragedies. Public awareness and stringent enforcement of safety standards are essential to mitigate these risks. 

Details

Date:
June 26
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category:
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