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First Aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning

Last updated March 5, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

4-methylcyclohexane methanol (or 4-MCHM) is a chemical that is used in certain industries for purification of coal for metallurgical operations and blending gasoline.

What is 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

  • 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (or 4-MCHM) is a chemical that is used in certain industries for purification of coal for metallurgical operations and blending gasoline
  • 4-MCHM is a colorless liquid, which has a sweet smell, like licorice. It is highly soluble in organic solvents but slightly soluble in water due to its oily consistency
  • Ingestion or exposure to 4-MCHM can lead to 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning. This may be accidental or intentional
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning may be variously referred to as:

  • 4-MCHM Poisoning
  • 4-MCHM Toxicity
  • 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Toxicity
  • 4-Methylcyclohexylmethanol Poisoning
  • 4-Methylcyclohexylmethanol Toxicity

What are the Causes of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

  • Exposure to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol usually takes place through contaminated water that affects one’s skin and/or eyes. The compound may be ingested or inhaled
  • 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. The signs and symptoms may include:

  • Eye irritation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache, dizziness
  • 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.

How is First Aid administered for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

First Aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number, for emergency assistance
  • Call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (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. Start CPR, if not breathing
  • Determine the mode, time of exposure, patient’s age, weight and general health status
  • If exposure of the skin has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for 15 minutes)
  • Eye irritation: Flush eyes with clean water for 15 minutes.  If possible, remove contact lenses
  • Remove clothes and shoes exposed to 4-MCHM. Destroy or thoroughly clean exposed clothes and shoes
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Monitor vital signs
  • Medical treatment is usually symptom management and might include relieving respiratory distress with nebulizer breathing treatments and/or artificial respirator if indicated
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line
  • Medical management of nausea and diarrhea
  • Administration of activated charcoal to avoid systemic absorption of the chemical into the body

Who should administer First Aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

First aid for 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 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 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning is dependent on the extent of exposure, severity of symptoms displayed, and time from exposure to treatment
  • Individuals with severe exposure and symptoms may have a poorer prognosis than those with milder exposures presenting less severe symptoms

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning be Prevented?

4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol Poisoning may be prevented by considering the following steps:

  • Do not drink water that is exposed to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol
  • Do not shower, brush teeth, or cook with water exposed to 4-MCHM
  • Boiling contaminated water does not eliminate 4-MCHM effectively; use bottled water if your water supply is exposed to the chemical compound
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Being aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Jan. 11, 2014
Last updated: March 5, 2018