Skin irritation, redness with itching Respiratory tract irritation causing burning sensation Breathing difficulty Vapors released at elevated temperatures can cause eye irritation and respiratory tract irritation. First Aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning: Call or your local emergency help number, for emergency assistance Call the poison control center at or your local poison control center for further instructions Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area; move them to region of fresh air immediately Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse If the person is unconscious, move them sideways to avoid choking. First aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals. The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call for emergency assistance or the local emergency number The person exposed to 4-MCHM should try to limit exposure and begin first aid before further treatment at a medical facility is sought They should also call the poison control center at or the local poison control center and follow instructions What is the Prognosis of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?
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Print Advertisement Water is a universal solvent , capable of dissolving most elements on Earth. But it fails when it comes to completely cleaning coal.
MCHM is used in washing coal, helping separate the burnable fossil fuel from the unburnable rock and dirt and other impurities. And despite the methanol in its name, it not the same compound as the "wood alcohol" most famously found in moonshine and known to cause headaches, blindness and even death. Many West Virginians received a disastrous introduction to MCMH this week, thanks to a spill of thousands of liters of the industrial chemical into the Elk River, which serves as the water supply for the counties in the middle of the state.
Some , people in the region have been advised not to drink the water, for now. Officials know little about the chemical at this point. Because it is not used in consumer products but rather in industrial settings, its toxicity and other effects on humans are largely unknown. What is it and what is it used for? Chemists classify MCMH as an organic solvent. That means it dissolves other compounds and is made from chains of carbon bonded together.
In this case it is used to separate coal from non-coal components in mined material. It is one of a long list of liquid chemicals used to wash coal, and such chemical or physical washes are commonly applied to most mined materials, whether minerals or ores.
How dangerous is it? MCMH should not be swallowed and may readily cause skin and eye irritation but it is not known to pose major risks to human health and safety. That said, the colorless liquid chemical has not been studied extensively—its effects on cancer or inducing mutations in DNA is unknown.
It freezes at 0 degree Celsius and it evaporates slowly, but not as easily as, say, gasoline. It smells like alcohol, according to safety reviews, but some of those exposed in West Virginia described it as smelling more like licorice.
Its solubility in water is "appreciable," according to one of its Material Safety Data Sheet , information required by regulation for any chemical in industrial use. MCMH can burn but only when concentrated and at relatively high temperatures above degrees Celsius. It is not explosive. It is not corrosive although it could cause problems for things like rubber seals in the water system. MCMH also adheres to some of the compounds in soil. It is poisonous but only at relatively large doses; in rats it killed half of the animals tested at concentrations above milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
Given that MCMH has spilled into a river this time, it might be more relevant that it killed half of fathead minnows exposed at concentrations of roughly 57 milligrams per liter of water. The chemical has a half-life meaning half of it will have broken down into other elements in this amount of time of roughly two weeks in water, a month in soil and, if it gets into the muck at the bottom of the river, days in sediments.
Microbes and the slow workings of natural chemistry help with that. Its half-life is less than a day in air, quickly broken down by sunlight. Nonetheless, as Halden says "exposure should be avoided because the health effects are a bit uncertain. The water contaminated by the spill should not be used for drinking or showering, but is fine to use for things like flushing the toilet.
The idea is to avoid direct contact with the contaminated water, and to avoid ingesting it or inhaling it. Is it methanol? Chemical nomenclature can be confusing. Can it be cleaned up? Yes, but it might make more sense to stop the spill, contain it and then wait for nature to take its course. Other alternatives include using some kind of a boom to contain the spill in the Elk River and then pump as much of the chemical as possible out of the waterway. How dangerous is this spill? Exposure to the slurry of water and other chemicals formed after coal is washed would be more dangerous to human health than exposure to MCMH—and there have been numerous coal slurry floods and spills in West Virginia and U.
That slurry is made far more toxic by the heavy metals and other dangerous elements leached from the coal itself. It also is far less dangerous than some other industrial solvents PCBs for example , byproducts such as dioxin and other liquid industrial spills fly ash slurries. In fact, Americans typically are exposed to other industrial chemicals every day that pose far more risk, such as the gasoline pumped into our vehicles. Gasoline is flammable, evaporates easily and contains compounds known to cause cancer.
Synthesis and production[ edit ] It was first prepared in by Bouveault—Blanc reduction of a methylcyclohexanecarboxylate ester. Other cyclohexane -based alcohols can also be used. MCHM has the advantage of being less toxic than previous frothing agents containing 2-ethylhexanol. The toxicity and environmental properties of these naphthenic acids have been well studied recently due to their occurrence as a major contaminant in water used for extraction of oil from tar sands. However, a longer-term six-week repetition of that test as a sensitization study failed to produce any reactions. One web site, Fantastic Flavours provides a list of recognized flavor additives for Japan, which includes 2,4-dimethylcyclohexanemethanol by virtue of being in the group of aliphatic higher alcohols.
How Dangerous Is the Coal-Washing Chemical Spilled in West Virginia?
Dozragore This page was last edited on 10 Decemberat The closely related compound cyclohexanedimethanol CAS exhibits low toxicity 3. It was first prepared in by Bouveault—Blanc reduction of a methylcyclohexanecarboxylate ester. Views Read Edit View history. Classified as a saturated higher alicyclic primary alcohol. Journal of Environmental Engineering and Methylcjclohexane.