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Thread: The COVID-19 Discussion Thread (OTB)

  1. #361
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    Methanol as an unlisted ingredient of alcohol-based hand sanitizers has been a sporadic problem for years. I guess it's become more of a problem now for various obvious reasons. We've also seen an outbreak of methanol poisoning in Iran, because people had been told on social media and the FOAF-net that drinking alcohol would prevent Covid-19 infection.
    During my own little flirtation with Covid, which happened just when all alcohol-based cleaning products had been strip-mined by hoarders and panickers, I used methylated spirits (called "denatured alcohol" in the USA, I think) as a surface disinfectant, to my wife's initial horror. But there hasn't been methanol in methylated spirits for decades in the UK--people eventually realized that "Let's make it poisonous so people won't drink it" was a fundamentally dumb idea, and started adding bitterants and odourants instead.

    Grant Hutchison

  2. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    During my own little flirtation with Covid, which happened just when all alcohol-based cleaning products had been strip-mined by hoarders and panickers, I used methylated spirits (called "denatured alcohol" in the USA, I think) as a surface disinfectant, to my wife's initial horror. But there hasn't been methanol in methylated spirits for decades in the UK--people eventually realized that "Let's make it poisonous so people won't drink it" was a fundamentally dumb idea, and started adding bitterants and odourants instead.
    As I recall, "methyl alcohol" was the more common term in pharmacies over here but it seems to have fallen out of favor over the years. My experience with denatured alcohol is as a solvent, primarily for thinning shellac. The methanol content can vary wildly in some products—30-to-60% in a commonly available brand. I long ago switched to their "green" version which contains 3-7%.

    Interestingly, I came across a fact sheet that not only describes MetOH as being unsafe, it's also less effective as a surface disinfectant...at least for viruses...in comparison to other alcohols. Also revealed: the Methanol Institute is a thing. Evidently.
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  3. #363
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Interestingly, I came across a fact sheet that not only describes MetOH as being unsafe, it's also less effective as a surface disinfectant...at least for viruses...in comparison to other alcohols. Also revealed: the Methanol Institute is a thing. Evidently.
    Methylated spirits in the UK is (and was) mainly ethanol--more than 80%, which makes it a good coronavirus killer. The remainder used to be methanol, but is now isopropanol and a few other things.
    One of the treatments for methanol poisoning used to be intravenous ethanol (I'm not sure if that's still the case). The ethanol competes with methanol for the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase, reducing the amount of methanol which is metabolized to methanal (formaldehyde, in old money) and then, via aldehyde dehydrogenase, into methanoic acid (formic acid, ditto). As medical students we used to speculate about whether we could blag our way to receiving an ethanol infusion by pretending to have ingested methylated spirits, and whether the treatment would actually result in pleasant inebriation.

    Grant Hutchison

  4. #364
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Methylated spirits in the UK is (and was) mainly ethanol--more than 80%, which makes it a good coronavirus killer.
    We do have the thing here labeled as ethyl rubbing alcohol (70%) so apparently they left the old name behind along with the methanol.
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  5. #365
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    I missed that part. I don’t believe methanol was ever a normal component of hand sanitizers, unless perhaps as a minute contaminant in the ethanol.
    Yeah, I guess that over the years, "added in small amounts as a contaminant" somehow shifted in my brain into "was a normal ingredient."
    As above, so below

  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    One of the treatments for methanol poisoning used to be intravenous ethanol (I'm not sure if that's still the case).
    The article you linked to in your prior post mentioned using IV ethanol along with other treatment in a 2016 poisoning, so pretty recent at least. Also, I’ve read about its use before, I think in a news article or two, so I’d guess it isn’t that unusual or obsolete a treatment.

    As medical students we used to speculate about whether we could blag our way to receiving an ethanol infusion by pretending to have ingested methylated spirits, and whether the treatment would actually result in pleasant inebriation.
    Heh. And I learned a new word. Blag: con, deceive.

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  7. #367
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Methanol as an unlisted ingredient of alcohol-based hand sanitizers has been a sporadic proble for years. I guess it's become more of a problem now for various obvious reasons.
    That was interesting and a bit disturbing. Apparently this comes up now and then and they don’t know why it would be used. It would seem to me to be a good way to get sued, possibly arrested and have your company’s reputation destroyed or risk being put out of business. I’d be surprised if it was profitable enough to knowingly take a chance, and it is well known that methanol is pretty toxic, so there would need to be some pretty ignorant people in charge to not know any better. Maybe due to having such poor procedures that they get the alcohol types mixed up?

    I was a bit surprised that even isopropyl alcohol is significantly less toxic if taken internally than methanol.

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  8. #368
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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Heh. And I learned a new word. Blag: con, deceive.
    Same here. Never heard that before.
    As above, so below

  9. #369
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    Well, this is interesting.

    Houston researchers have made an air filter that can kill the coronavirus

    It,s a nickel foam filter heated to 200F that kills up to 99.8% of the virus on one pass.
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  10. #370
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim View Post
    Well, this is interesting.

    Houston researchers have made an air filter that can kill the coronavirus

    It,s a nickel foam filter heated to 200F that kills up to 99.8% of the virus on one pass.
    Well, 'kill it with fire' is a time-tested method...
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  11. #371
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    Discussion of mask policy and practice in the other COVID thread brought commerce aspect to my mind. Before COVID, I occasionally shopped for face masks to use as protection from wood dust and fumes/aerosols of finishes and solvents. Looking at Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Google Shopping now though...the explosion of makers and vendors is pretty amazing, as is the variety of mask designs. Colorful fabrics, graphics, messages, even customization. Of course, there was only one thing I could do:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    On a less amusing note, it's disappointing to see so many masks with unfiltered exhaust valves being offered for COVID protection...and being used, even in medical settings.
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  12. #372
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    On a less amusing note, it's disappointing to see so many masks with unfiltered exhaust valves being offered for COVID protection...and being used, even in medical settings.
    Medical use of such masks, in these parts at least, is restricted to those caring for people who have tested positive for Covid-19, where the carer needs protection from the patient, but not the other way around (and not when sterile procedures are being carried out). They're a lot easier to wear for a long shift than any of the alternatives.
    I recently watched a TV journalist in the USA, wearing an N95 mask with two prominent expiratory flutter valves, explain to camera how we'd "all been asking the wrong questions about masks" and that the purpose of his mask was "to protect others" not "to protect myself". Extra points for attempting to pass on the messaging du jour, but infinite points deducted for being such an extremely bad example of it. (Hereabouts, we call them "I'm alright Jack" masks. I don't know how well that reference survives crossing the Atlantic.)

    Grant Hutchison
    Last edited by grant hutchison; 2020-Jul-10 at 05:03 PM.

  13. #373
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    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape


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  14. #374
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Medical use of such masks, in these parts at least, is restricted to those caring for people who have tested positive for Covid-19, where the carer needs protection from the patient, but not the other way around (and not when sterile procedures are being carried out). They're a lot easier to wear for a long shift than any of the alternatives.
    No argument in that case. Being a long-time mask wearer—GP dust masks, P95/P100, half and full face respirators, military gas masks—I completely get increased comfort of exhaust valves. The instances I alluded to were in a more general patient contact setting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape
    When masks were hard (impossible) to find locally, I raided my woodworking stock and used such a mask briefly. I covered the valve port with duct tape adorned with...wait for it...mustaches. I was a bit concerned that the pressure of warm, moist air behind the adhesive c/would eventually loosen it, so I applied tape to the inside of the valve as well. I'm pretty sure it was okay for your brief visit but me, I wouldn't have been at all confident using it. Sometimes I over think things and over-engineer as a result.
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  15. #375
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    (Hereabouts, we call them "I'm alright Jack" masks. I don't know how well that reference survives crossing the Atlantic.)
    I think it's so rarely used on this side that I can't recall ever hearing it, except from Pink Floyd. However, Google confirms that I correctly inferred its basic meaning from the context. Interesting history behind it, too.
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    Man is a tool-using animal. Nowhere do you find him without tools; without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all. — Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)

  16. #376
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    My employer requires wearing masks on-site. If a mask has an exhaust valve, it must be covered.
    I wore my N95 mask during a recent visit, and covered the exhaust valve with...

    Wait for it...

    Masking Tape


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    And both the mask and tape might well have been made by the same company, 3M! Especially if the tape was blue.

    Meanwhile, my yard guy sent a couple of his guys out this morning but he himself is off on a trip with his family. To Florida. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

  17. #377
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    One of my best friends lives in Florida, works in the health care industry, and would definitely agree with you.
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