Arizona poison centers warn of alcohol poisonings from homemade liquor and hand sanitizers

PHOENIX (June 29, 2020) – Arizona’s two poison centers recently received several calls that led to hospitalizations due to drinking a toxic alcohol, methanol, reportedly related to homemade liquor. Medical experts warn that consuming methanol can result in death.

“Methanol can contaminate illicit alcohols, resulting in blindness and organ failure. Even small amounts can be fatal without immediate treatment,” said Daniel Brooks, MD, medical director of the Banner Poison and Drug Information Center.

Methanol is a type of alcohol used to create fuel, solvents and antifreeze. The colorless liquid is volatile, flammable, and – unlike ethanol – poisonous for human consumption.

Some callers reported they ingested homemade hand sanitizer in hopes of receiving intoxicating effects. Hand sanitizer normally doesn’t contain methanol, unless incorrectly made.

Since June 1, 2020, Arizona’s poison centers received 14 cases related to drinking homemade liquor or hand sanitizers (some containing methanol). All 14 cases resulted in an adult being hospitalized in critical condition.

“We are working with the state and county health departments to warn Arizonans and hopefully prevent any more illnesses and deaths from this,” said Steve Dudley, PharmD, DABAT, managing director of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center.

If you or a loved one believe there has been an exposure to any poison, medication or chemical, please call the poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222. The poison centers can assist in evaluating and managing the situation, and help determine if it is necessary to seek additional medical attention. 

About Banner Poison and Drug Information Center

The Poison and Drug Information Centers at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy in Tucson, and Banner – University Medical Center Phoenix, provide free and confidential poison and drug information to the public and health care professionals. The hotlines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The two centers serve all of Arizona and are part of 55 centers across the nation that are accredited by American Association of Poison Control Centers. Call 1-800-222-1222 from any location to reach the poison center nearest you.

For further information: media@bannerhealth.com