Outbreaks of methanol poisoning have occurred when methanol is used to lace moonshine (bootleg liquor).[1]

Methanol is toxic to humans via ingestion due to metabolism. If as little as 10 ml of pure methanol is ingested, for example, it can break down into formic acid, which can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30 ml is potentially fatal,[2] although the median lethal dose is typically 100 ml (3.4 fl oz) (i.e. 1–2 ml/kg body weight) of pure methanol.[3] This does not happen with ethanol, which breaks down into acetic acid, which is non-toxic in small amounts. Reference dose for methanol is 0.5 mg/kg/day.[4] Toxic effects take hours to start, and effective antidotes, like ethanol, can often prevent permanent damage.[2] Because of its similarities in both appearance and odor to ethanol (the alcohol in beverages), it is difficult to differentiate between the two.


In 2013 three people died and one suffered partial blindness when they ingested a home-made beverage containing methanol.[5]

In 1997 two people from Central Australia died and two survived after ingesting a drink made from methanol and other alcoholic beverages.[6]


In 1999, 35 people died, in ten cities of the state of Bahia as a result of drinking cachaça contaminated with methanol. Further investigation revealed concentrations as high as 24.84% methanol. As other different cases have also been related, in a 20-day window there have been 450 people hospitalized with the toxicity symptoms of methanol ingestion.[7]


In 2012, 49 people died, and more than 300 people were hospitalized, after drinking rice wine contaminated by methanol.[8]

Costa Rica

25 persons died in August 2019 due to methanol poisoning.[9]

Czech Republic

Main article: 2012 Czech Republic methanol poisonings

Customs Administration of the Czech Republic monitors observance of the ban in Prague, September 13.

The 2012 Czech Republic methanol poisonings occurred in September 2012 in the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia.[10] Over the course of several days, 38 people in the Czech Republic[11] and 4 people in Poland died as a result of methanol poisoning and several tens of others were taken to hospital.[12][13]

El Salvador

In El Salvador, as many as 122 people died in 2000 as a result of drinking low quality liquors sold in unauthorized shops that were found to be adulterated with methanol.[14] The incident prompted the authorities to declare a 10-day emergency prohibition and a massive inspection of alcohol-vending establishments. The root cause was believed to be an act of terrorism, possibly a social cleansing campaign targeted against alcoholics,[15] as the offending distilleries were not found to be responsible for the methanol contents that were present in the affected liquors.[16]


Main article: Pärnu methanol poisoning incident

The Pärnu methanol poisoning incident occurred in Pärnu county, Estonia, in September 2001, when 68 people died and 43 were left disabled after contents of stolen methanol canisters were used in production of bootleg liquor.


See also: List of alcohol poisonings in India

India has a thriving moonshine industry, and methanol-tainted batches have killed over 2,000 people in the last 3 decades, including:


Arak that has been laced has contributed to deaths due to methanol toxicity.[26][27][28][29]


In 2013, as a result of methanol mass poisoning in Iran[30] 694 people were hospitalised in the city of Rafsanjan. 8 people were reported dead due to severe intoxication.

During the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran, nearly 300 people died and over a thousand became ill from drinking methanol in the belief that drinking it can kill the virus in the body.[31]


Two men were killed in a methanol poisoning incident near to Burtonport, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland in 2014 after drinking what was claimed to be poitín (an Irish moonshine made from potatoes).[32] One man was native Irish and the other a Lithuanian immigrant. A bottle seized at the scene of one poisoning was found to contain 97% methanol.[33][34]

In 2017 a person was severely poisoned after buying "vodka" from an unlicensed seller in the Ballymun area of Dublin; the bottle had been refilled with a liquid containing methanol.[35][36][37]


In 1986 the methanol-tainted wine scandal[38] was a fraud perpetrated by adulterating table wine with methanol, poisoning over a hundred people, with 90 hospitalized, 23 deaths, and many others heavily injured (blindness and neurological damages).[39]


At least 51 people died in Tripoli in 2013.[40] The consumption and sale of alcohol is illegal in Libya.[40]


The Madagascar methanol mass poisoning occurred in 1998 when 200 people died.[41]


From September until October 2018, 45 people have been reported died of methanol poisoning from drinking fake liquor.[42] In this incident, the methanol content was up to 50 times more than the permissible amount.[43] Cases of toxic alcohol poisoning have been reported in Selangor, the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, Perak and Negeri Sembilan.[42] The deaths comprised various nationalities mostly of foreign workers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Myanmar and Nepal.[42] Around 30 people including three Indian nationals, believed to be responsible for the distribution of cheap counterfeit liquor to retailers around Selayang and Desa Jaya which led to the methanol poisoning incident have been arrested.[44][45]


Government restrictions on liquor and beer sales during the COVID-19 pandemic may have exacerbated the problem of illegal production and sale of alcoholic beverages in Mexico. Reportedly, 35 people died in 2020 in just one mass poisoning incident due to methanol tainted drinks.[46]


Between September 28 and 29, 2022, 21 deaths occurred in the northern Moroccan city of Ksar El Kebir.[47] Between May 31 and June 02, 2023, 9 deaths occurred in the Moroccan city of Meknes.[48]


Between April 14 and April 26, 2015, 23 deaths were recorded in relation to methanol poisoning in Ayadi and Ode-Irele towns of Irele Local Government Area in Ondo State.[49]

66 people in Rivers State died over a few weeks that started in April 2015 due to methanol-contaminated ogogoro.[50][51][52]


Between September 2002 and December 2004, 51 people were admitted to hospital with symptoms of methanol poisoning, of whom 9 died. A further 8 people who died outside hospital were found to have died from methanol poisoning following autopsy. The liquor responsible for all of the cases contained 20% methanol and 80% ethanol and probably came from the same source in southern Europe.[53]


In October 2022 in Lima, Peru 54 people died due to consuming fruit-flavored vodka that was laced with methanol. The source of the methanol was from windshield washer fluid and antifreeze. [54]


The Luzon lambanog deaths started to occur in late November 2018 in separate places in the Philippines after drinking arrack (locally known in the Philippines as lambanog) in separate places in the Philippines. The case started on November 29 when the residents from Calamba, Laguna drank lambanog and began to experience symptoms such as stomach cramps, resulting in hospital admission; they subsequently died.[55] People who consumed lambanog experienced other symptoms such as nausea, chest pains, and blurry vision. Meanwhile, another four persons, who were tricycle drivers, were reported to have died after they consumed arrack and thirteen others were hospitalized in Quezon City.[56]

In December 2019, at least 23 people died while around 300 were hospitalized after drinking methanol-laced palm liquor, locally known as lambanog, in the provinces of Laguna and Quezon.[57][58] Separate incidents of methanol poisoning involving lambanog were also reported in 2018 which caused at least 21 deaths.[59]


Russian poster warning people about the dangers of drinking methanol.

In December 2016, 72 people died in a mass methanol poisoning in Irkutsk, Siberia. The poisoning was precipitated by drinking counterfeit surrogate alcohol—actually scented bath lotion that was marked as not safe for consumption.[60] Named Boyaryshnik ("Hawthorn"),[61] it was described by the Associated Press as being counterfeit.[62]

In October 2021, in Orenburg, 35 people died and 33 others were poisoned in a mass surrogate alcohol poisoning. 7 people were noted as being in serious condition, and 3 people were placed on ventilators. 10 people were arrested for the incident.[63]

Also, in October 2021 18 people died and a number were poisoned in another mass surrogate alcohol poisoning in Yekaterinburg and towns nearby. Two persons were arrested.[64]

In May-June 2023, at least 30 people died and 96 were poisoned in the Samara region by cider contaminated with methanol and ethyl butyrate. The contaminated alcohol had reportedly been stolen from a warehouse of the Russian Interior Ministry. Four people, including one police officer, were arrested.[65]


In 1998,[66] 43 people died after drinking Rakia which contained between 40-75% methanol per bottle. The case is commonly known as the "Zozovača affair".[67] There were also at least 13 people with permanent health consequences.[68]


Main article: Spanish Methanol Poisonings

In 1963, methanol was used in the preparation of bottled mixed alcohol drinks such as coffee liqueur. According official records, 51 died and 9 lost their sight, but according to newspapers there may have been thousands of victims, mainly in Galicia and the Canary Islands.[69][70]


Further information: 2011 Turkish Riviera mass alcohol poisoning


Main article: Waragi § Incidents

In April 2010, 80 people died from multiple organ dysfunction syndrome after drinking waragi adulterated with a high amount of methanol over a three-week period in Kabale District.[78][79][80] Many of the deaths were blamed on the reluctance of people to openly admit their relatives had been drinking it, allowing the abuse of the substance to continue.[79][80] When revelations came about houses were searched, with around 120 jerrycans uncovered.[80]

United States

In December 1963, a rash of 31 deaths in Philadelphia's homeless population was traced to a local store that knowingly sold Sterno to people for them to consume and get drunk.[81]

In January 2016, consumption of a mixture of Mountain Dew and methanol, referred to as Dewshine, resulted in the reported deaths of two Tennessee high school students.[82] The methanol in this case was believed to come from racing fuel.[83][84]

In April 2018, a Massachusetts man died after ingesting alcohol that was contaminated with methanol. The product consumed was labeled "Ethanol Extraction 95% ethanol and 5% water". An FDA recall was issued and the company is no longer selling the product which was sold over the internet and shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.[85]


  1. ^ "Application to Include Fomepizole on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines" (PDF). November 2012. p. 10.
  2. ^ a b Vale A (2007). "Methanol". Medicine. 35 (12): 633–4. doi:10.1016/j.mpmed.2007.09.014.
  3. ^ "Methanol Poisoning Overview". Antizol. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved April 10, 2011.
  4. ^ US EPA, ORD (March 15, 2013). "Integrated Risk Information System". US EPA.
  5. ^ "Man pleads not guilty following home brew tragedy". ABC News. 6 June 2016.
  6. ^ Williams, Gerald F.; Hatch, Fay J.; Bradley, Michael C. (1 December 1997). "Methanol poisoning: a review and case study of four patients from Central Australia". Australian Critical Care. 10 (4): 113–118. doi:10.1016/S1036-7314(97)70412-0. PMID 9708069.
  7. ^ "Folha de S.Paulo - Mortes na BA foram causadas por metanol - 12/03/1999". www1.folha.uol.com.br. Retrieved 2018-06-25.
  8. ^ Xinhua 49 Cambodians die, 318 hospitalized by home-made rice wine February 15, 2012
  9. ^ Deerwester, Jayme. "Costa Rica tainted alcohol death toll rises to 25; what you need to know about spotting it". USA TODAY.
  10. ^ "Pierwsze przypadki zatrucia metanolem na Słowacji" (in Polish). dziennik.pl. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  11. ^ "S otravou metylalkoholem bojoval v nemocnici měsíc, nakonec zemřel" (in Czech). novinky.cz. 12 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  12. ^ "Metanol má 21. oběť, zemřela žena z Českého Těšína" (in Czech). Novinky.cz. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  13. ^ "Cztery śmiertelne zatrucia metanolem w Polsce. Dwa przez czeski alkohol?" (in Polish). tvn24.pl. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  14. ^ "122 salvadoreños mueren tras ingerir aguardiente adulterado con metanol". El País (in Spanish). 13 October 2000. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  15. ^ "10 días sin alcohol -- Ley seca en El Salvador". La Nación (in Spanish). 13 October 2000. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Licor "Trueno" no contenía metanol, revela Fiscalía". El Diario de Hoy (in Spanish). 21 August 2001. Retrieved 2 July 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h World Health Organization (PDF)
  18. ^ a b "Mumbai hooch tragedy: Death toll climbs to 66, 31 still hospitalised". Firstpost. 20 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  19. ^ "Who, What, Why: Why are Indians dying from alcohol poisoning?". BBC News. 15 December 2011.
  20. ^ "India toxic alcohol 'kills 17' in Andhra Pradesh". BBC News. 2 January 2012. Retrieved 2012-08-10.
  21. ^ BBC News India doctors fight to save West Bengal alcohol victims 16 December 2011
  22. ^ "One more dies in Batala hooch tragedy, toll increases to 18". October 11, 2012. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved February 27, 2013.
  23. ^ "Azamgarh hooch tragedy: Toll reaches 40, police book 17". The Indian Express. 21 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  24. ^ "Spurious liquor kills six, 18 other critical in Burdwan". 2017-01-03.
  25. ^ Agence France-Presse (2019-02-11). "Toxic alcohol 'laced with methanol' kills at least 99 people in India". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-02-25.
  26. ^ "Vodka and lime killed a 19-year-old Aussie. His death was so avoidable". NewsComAu. 6 September 2016.
  27. ^ "Family blames local drink for teacher's holiday death". independent.
  28. ^ McMahon, Jeannette (12 October 2011). "Poisoned nurse back home in Newcastle". www.abc.net.au.
  29. ^ "More alcohol deaths in Indonesia". 2 June 2009.
  30. ^ Hassanian-Moghaddam, Hossein; Nikfarjam, Ali; Mirafzal, Amirhossein; Saberinia, Amin; Nasehi, Abbas Ali; Masoumi Asl, Hossein; Memaryan, Nadereh (2015). "Methanol mass poisoning in Iran: role of case finding in outbreak management". Journal of Public Health. 37 (2): 354–359. doi:10.1093/pubmed/fdu038. PMID 24944254.
  31. ^ "Coronavirus: In Iran, the false belief that toxic methanol fights Covid-19 kills hundreds". Associated Press. 27 March 2020 – via South China Morning Post.
  32. ^ "Coroner highlights lethal "poitin" concern". www.donegallive.ie.
  33. ^ "First deaths in Ireland of methanol intoxication recorded at Donegal inquest". Donegal News. July 6, 2014.
  34. ^ Maguire, Stephen (April 4, 2014). "Coroner warns of dangers of contaminated alcoholic drinks". Irish Examiner.
  35. ^ "Warning re. drinking alcohol from unrecognised vendors following methanol poisoning case". www.fsai.ie.
  36. ^ Gleeson, Colin. "HSE issues alert on 'fake alcohol' after man becomes seriously ill". The Irish Times.
  37. ^ "Fake alcohol warning as man left seriously ill after drank methanol which was sold as vodka". independent.
  38. ^ Roberto Suro (1986-04-09). "Italy acting to end the sale of methanol-tainted wine". New York Times.
  39. ^ "Italian methanol scandal". thedrinksbusiness.com. 17 August 2011. Retrieved 2016-12-20.
  40. ^ a b "Alcohol poisoning kills 51 in Libya". BBC News. 11 March 2013.
  41. ^ "Deadly brew hits Madagascar". BBC News. 29 March 2002. Retrieved 2013-08-29.
  42. ^ a b c Jamny Rosli (2 October 2018). "Methanol poisoning: Health Ministry tracking down source as deaths hit 45". The Malay Mail. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  43. ^ "Malaysia alcohol poisoning: Methanol content was up to 50 times more than permissible amount". Channel NewsAsia. 25 September 2018. Archived from the original on 26 September 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
  44. ^ "Three foreigners arrested for distributing fake liquor". Bernama. Free Malaysia Today. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 4 October 2018.
  45. ^ Richard Whitehead (5 October 2018). "When cheap booze turns into a public health crisis". Beverage Daily. Retrieved 13 March 2019.
  46. ^ "Mexico: at least 35 people die in mass bad-alcohol poisoning". The Guardian. 13 May 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-25.
  47. ^ "Methanol Tragedy: Tangier Court Hands Down Sentences". www.themoroccantimes.com/.
  48. ^ "Nine Deaths in Morocco Linked to Alcohol Poisoning, Suspects Arrested". www.themoroccantimes.com/.
  49. ^ "Methanol Poisoning: Death Toll Rises to 23 in Ondo". ThisdayLive Nigeria. 27 April 2015. Archived from the original on 13 July 2015. Retrieved 28 April 2015.
  50. ^ "66 Die Of Ogogoro In Rivers State".
  51. ^ Winsor, Morgan (21 April 2015). "Nigeria's Mysterious Epidemic Linked To Contaminated Alcohol And Methanol Poisoning, Not Ebola". International Business Times.
  52. ^ "Nigeria: NAFDAC - Methanol Responsible for 'Ogogoro' Deaths in Rivers".
  53. ^ Hovda, KE; Hunderi, OH; Tafjord, AB; Dunlop, O; Rudberg, N; Jacobsen, D (August 2005). "Methanol outbreak in Norway 2002-2004: epidemiology, clinical features and prognostic signs". Journal of Internal Medicine. 258 (2): 181–90. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2796.2005.01521.x. PMID 16018795. S2CID 19274.
  54. ^ "Methanol-laced drinks claim dozens of lives in Peru". medicalxpress.com. Retrieved 23 March 2023.
  55. ^ "9 patay matapos uminom ng lambanog; sample nakitaan ng methanol". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  56. ^ "FDA looking into death of 4 tricycle drivers after they drank 'lambanog'". Manila Bulletin.
  57. ^ Mallari, Delfin T. Jr. (2019-12-29). "'Lambanog' death toll reaches 23". INQUIRER.net. Retrieved 2022-07-24.
  58. ^ Lim, Michelle (2019-12-24). "Toxic coconut wine kills at least 11 people during Christmas celebrations in the Philippines". CNN. Retrieved 2022-07-24.
  59. ^ Crisostomo, Sheila. "Lambanog makers to face raps". Philstar.com. Retrieved 2022-07-24.
  60. ^ Nechepurenko, Ivan (19 December 2016). "In Russia, Dozens Dies After Drinking Alcohol Substitute". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  61. ^ "State of emergency declared in Russia as 49 die in bath lotion drinking case". CBS News. 19 December 2016. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  62. ^ Isachenkov, Vladimir (19 December 2016). "Alcohol poisoning death toll in Russian city rises to 49". Associated Press. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  63. ^ "Death toll from Russian alcohol poisoning incident rises to 34". Reuters. 2021-10-10. Retrieved 2021-10-12.
  64. ^ "18 екатеринбуржцев скончались от отравления метанолом".
  65. ^ "Колокольцев уволил замначальника самарского ГУ МВД на фоне отравлений суррогатным сидром". Vedomosti. 8 June 2023.
  66. ^ Kosanovic, Z. (2 February 1998). "Za sedam dana devetoro preminulih". Naša borba (in Serbian). yurope.com. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  67. ^ "Potvrđena presuda za aferu "zozovača"". Radio Television of Serbia (in Serbian). 4 July 2008. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  68. ^ Lazić, J. (4 April 2013). "»Guslar« na slobodi" (in Serbian). Vreme. Retrieved 23 January 2024.
  69. ^ "Os esquecidos do metílico" (in Galician). Galicia Hoxe. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  70. ^ "Vuelve el caso del alcohol adulterado" (in Spanish). La Voz de Vigo. 2014-11-09. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  71. ^ "Bootlegged alcohol claims fifth victim in Turkey". Hürriyet Daily News. 2011-07-04. Retrieved 2015-10-31.
  72. ^ Aksoyer, Ali (2015-11-04). "Sahte içkiden ölenlerin sayısı yine arttı". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2015-11-05.
  73. ^ "İstanbul'da Sahte İçkiden 1 Ayda Toplam 32 Kişi Öldü. İstanbul'da 13 Bin Şişe Sahte İçki İmha Edildi, 1 Şüpheli Yakalandı". Haber 24 (in Turkish). Archived from the original on 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  74. ^ "İzmir'de sahte içki faciası!". Sabah (in Turkish). 2015-11-25. Retrieved 2015-11-26.
  75. ^ "44 people die in Turkey from bootleg alcohol: report | Macau Business". 14 October 2020.
  76. ^ "Death toll from bootleg alcohol rises to 44 across Turkey - Turkey News". Hürriyet Daily News.
  77. ^ "22 die in Istanbul from bootleg alcohol poisoning | eKathimerini.com". www.ekathimerini.com.
  78. ^ "Home-made gin kills 80 in a month in Uganda". Herald Sun. 25 April 2010. Retrieved 25 April 2010.
  79. ^ a b "80 people die of methanol-laced gin in Uganda". The Gazette (Montreal). 23 April 2010. Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  80. ^ a b c "Illegal banana gin 'kills 80' in Uganda". BBC. 23 April 2010. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  81. ^ "COMMONWEALTH v. FEINBERG | 211 Pa.Super. 100 (1967) | uper1001294 | Leagle.com". Leagle.
  82. ^ "Tennessee Teens Die After Drinking Mountain Dew/Racing Fuel Cocktail".
  83. ^ "Health Buzz: Dewshine – a Mix of Mountain Dew and Racing Fuel – Proves Deadly".
  84. ^ Chandler Friedman and Steve Almasy (28 January 2016). "Racing fuel mixed with soda suspected in teens' deaths". CNN.
  85. ^ "Ethanol Extraction Recalls Alcohol Product Because of Possible Health Risk". U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 11 February 2024.