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January 3, 1920


JAMA. 1920;74(1):33-34. doi:10.1001/jama.1920.02620010039015

The menace of methyl alcohol or wood spirits to human health, though long known to physicians, has never been adequately appreciated by the public. Heretofore the dangers arising from its introduction into the body have for the most part been confined to some accidental or casual intake of the substance, and larger numbers of fatalities have arisen only in unusual circumstances, such as the criminal adulteration of alcoholic beverages with wood alcohol. With the enforcement of national prohibition, however, the prospect of more frequent instances of harm through the use of this intoxicant in place of the forbidden grain spirits and other drinks containing ordinary ethyl alcohol is unfortunately before the nation. Within the last few weeks the newspapers have reported the deaths of more than a hundred persons from the adulteration of alcoholic beverages with methyl alcohol. It therefore becomes more necessary than ever to understand the toxicology of

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