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Reassessment Of Meths Formulation

Reassessment Of Meths Formulation

ERMA New Zealand is to reassess the methylated spirits formulation containing methanol.

ERMA New Zealand Chief Executive, Rob Forlong, says coroners, doctors, and members of the public have been among groups to highlight how methylated spirits can damage the health of people who use it as a cheap alcohol substitute.

Methylated spirits, or meths, is made up of ethanol denatured with up to 2% methanol and is widely available across the counter as a cleaner, solvent and fuel.

Mr Forlong said it is widely accepted that some alcohol-dependent individuals buy meths from retail outlets as an inexpensive alcohol substitute.

"Drinking methylated spirits often results in people presenting at hospitals needing treatment, and in extreme cases drinking meths has resulted in death," he said.

While a move in 1999 by the Toxic Substances Board reducing the amount of methanol in meths from 5% to 2% saw a decrease in the number of people turning up at hospitals affected by drinking methylated spirits, such cases were still being recorded.

ERMA New Zealand is considering a number of options to avoid the misuse of methylated spirits. With the deliberate drinking of meths linked to its ready availability from shops, one proposal is to restrict the sale of meths containing up to 2% methanol to industrial users only.

Mr Forlong said ERMA New Zealand recognised meths had many legitimate uses, and would ensure alternative formulations were available to the public through retail outlets.

Methylated spirits are regulated by the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms (HSNO) Act 1996, with risks associated with its intended use managed by existing controls.

Submission forms can be downloaded from made in writing to ERMA New Zealand, PO Box 131, Wellington, or emailed to Submission close on 17 November 2006.


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