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Old 26 February 2010, 06:23 PM
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Icon24 Government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition?

Comment: In 1926, did the Federal Goverment poison alcohol in an effort to
curb alcohol consumption during the prohibition?

An article claims approximately 10,000 people died. I find this hard to beleive.
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  #2  
Old 26 February 2010, 06:29 PM
Steve Steve is offline
 
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This Slate article by Deborah Blum is probably what the writer means.

Quote:
Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.
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Old 26 February 2010, 07:08 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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The basic story is certainly true and indeed is still true today. All grain alcohol (ethanol) that is not for human consumption is purposely poisoned (denatured) with either methanol (wood alcohol) or benzene. Once the alcohol is denatured it avoids the IIRC $25/gallon tax on drinkable alcohol. (There is a very small and tightly regulated market for pure ethanol that is drinkable but still not taxed.)

I'm sure that many thousands of people have died from drinking denatured alcohol over the years. Heck, many people have died from drinking Sterno over the years.
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Old 26 February 2010, 08:07 PM
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Can you drink Sterno? I'd think you'd need to eat it with a spoon, like gelatin.

Draino's the thing to drink, with anti-freeze for dessert!
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  #5  
Old 28 February 2010, 01:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Logoboros View Post
Can you drink Sterno? I'd think you'd need to eat it with a spoon, like gelatin.
Nah - according to The Andromeda Strain, you have to squeeze the sterno through a cloth before drinking it!

I concur with Jimmy101 - most ethanols sold today are denatured with any of several different additives. There are close to 100 different types of "SD" (specially denatured) alcohols - some present even in mouthwash, cough syrups, etc. (denatured with things like menthol, that in small amounts aren't hazardous).
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Old 02 March 2010, 01:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassist View Post
I concur with Jimmy101 - most ethanols sold today are denatured with any of several different additives. There are close to 100 different types of "SD" (specially denatured) alcohols - some present even in mouthwash, cough syrups, etc. (denatured with things like menthol, that in small amounts aren't hazardous).
Ethanol fuel is another example. E85, as implied by its name, is 85% ethanol, 15% gasoline. Even the special "E100" fuel used by Indy race cars is actually 2% gasoline to comply with government regulations (with the added benefit that it makes flames visible in the event of a fire).
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Old 05 March 2010, 11:55 PM
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The article claims that agents of the federal government deliberately murdered people so that the citizenry would be afraid to drink. However, the author does not name the agents who supposedly poisoned the bootlegged liquor. I read this article a few weeks back, and I am still a bit skeptical.

Barb Rainey
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Old 06 March 2010, 05:02 PM
jimmy101_again jimmy101_again is offline
 
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Well "deliberately" is probably a stretch. The fact is that something that people thought was safe to drink suddenly appeared in a various poisonous form. Some people don't read warning labels. Some people died.
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Old 06 March 2010, 07:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
Well "deliberately" is probably a stretch. The fact is that something that people thought was safe to drink suddenly appeared in a various poisonous form. Some people don't read warning labels. Some people died.
Well that is the thing. The government was banning consumption of a product that was used for things other than consumption. Legitimate things too. So naturally, the government altered the substance (alcohol) to prevent a black market from rising up.

Unfortunately, people died because they werenít aware or were desperate. Itís the same thing with illegal stills that were in operation. The process of breaking prohibition laws was risky.

It as not as if the government poisoned vats of alcohol in secret back rooms like the conspiracy theorists claim that the government does with air trails. They tainted traditional alcohol, but they werenít do it to kill people - it was to tell bootleggers to keep their mitts off the stuff that they had to keep legal.
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  #10  
Old 19 June 2012, 04:07 PM
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Default Jamaica ginger paralysis

A product call Jamaica Ginger Extract was being sold in pharmacies during Prohibition. The extract contained alcohol, and people used it as a substitute for liquor. The government caught on and required it be adulterated. Two men who produced some of the extract found a way to trick the government adulteration test while retaining the intoxicating effect. The problem was their adulterant was a neurotoxin, and many people were paralyzed.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/arti...00054-0131.pdf
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