Journal Article

Fatality from Drinking Denatured Alcohol and Hypothermia

Alan Wayne Jones

in Journal of Analytical Toxicology

Volume 35, issue 5, pages 316-318
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0146-4760
Published online June 2011 | e-ISSN: 1945-2403 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anatox/35.5.316
Fatality from Drinking Denatured Alcohol and Hypothermia

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A 19-year-old non-diabetic female suffering from irritable bowel syndrome was found unconscious outdoors in the month of October. She was severely hypothermic and rushed to hospital for life-saving treatment. Evidence emerged that the victim had attempted suicide by drinking denatured alcohol (T-Red). According to the manufacturer of this product, it contains > 85% (v/v) ethanol, ∼5% (v/v) acetone, 1–2% (v/v) ethyl acetate, and ∼3% (v/v) methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), but no isopropanol. A venous blood sample taken on admission to hospital contained ethanol (660 mg/100 mL), acetone (25 mg/100 mL), isopropanol (78 mg/100 mL), and MEK, although the latter was not quantified. Despite intensive care, the patient died 21 h after admission and postmortem femoral blood contained ethanol (390 mg/100 mL), acetone (14 mg/100 mL), isopropanol (53 mg/100 mL), and MEK. During oxidative metabolism of ethanol, there is a shift in the redox state of the liver to a more reduced potential as reflected in a raised NADH/NAD+ ratio, which impacts on other NAD-dependent biochemical reactions, including reduction of acetone to isopropanol. The lower concentrations of ethanol, acetone, and isopropnaol in postmortem blood compared with antemortem blood indicate the metabolism of these substances during the 21-h survival period when the patient received emergency hospital treatment.

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Subjects: Medical Toxicology ; Toxicology (Non-medical)

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