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1 killed, dozens hospitalized due to methanol poisoning in northern Vietnam

1 killed, dozens hospitalized due to methanol poisoning in northern Vietnam

Wednesday, March 15, 2023, 14:35 GMT+7
1 killed, dozens hospitalized due to methanol poisoning in northern Vietnam
Doctor Nguyen Trung Nguyen, director of the Poison Control Center under Bach Mai Hospital, assesses the brain damage of a patient poisoned with methanol. Photo: Bach Mai Hospital

A total of 37 workers at a factory in Bac Ninh Province, northern Vietnam have been hospitalized for methanol poisoning with one of them dead as of Monday as their company used methanol-tainted alcohol to cool off cutting machines.

Bach Mai Hospital in Hanoi, which is treating the workers, reported that the hospital has received the methanol poisoning cases since late last month.

The patients are workers of HSTECH Vina Co. Ltd., which produces electronic accessories, including a metal component produced by cutting.

According to the workers, ethanol was sprayed to cool off cutting machines. Workers also use ethanol to clean some components.

The company began using a new batch of ethanol from the last week of February and workers started to report fatigue and headaches.

Among them, N.T.H., a 42-year-old female resident in Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province, was in the most serious condition.

She started reporting symptoms of blurred vision, headaches, nausea, and then lethargy on February 27.

She was rushed to Thuan Thanh Hospital in Bac Ninh and later transferred to Bach Mai Hospital.

The patient was taken to Bach Mai Hospital’s Poison Control Center with the conditions of coma, hypotension, severe metabolic acidosis, and serious brain damage on both sides and a methanol concentration in blood of 123.16 mg/dL.

Despite urgent treatment, she died later due to brain damage. 

T.V.N., from northern Cao Bang Province, is another patient with serious symptoms. 

Four days before being taken to the Bac Ninh General Hospital on February 24, he showed symptoms of shortness of breath, fatigue, blurred vision, and coma.

He was later transferred to the Poison Control Center under Bach Mai Hospital with symptoms of coma, hypotension, severe metabolic acidosis, severe brain damage on both sides, and a blood methanol concentration of 125 mg/dL.

His consciousness has improved but he still suffers brain and eye damage. 

According to doctor Nguyen Trung Nguyen, director of the Poison Control Center under Bach Mai Hospital, the alcohol used by HSTECH Vina Co. Ltd., had a methanol concentration of 77.83 percent and no ethanol.

The workers were poisoned with methanol as they breathed the methanol-contaminated air and had direct contact with the substance through their skin, doctor Nguyen added.

The doctor said as soon as the hospital admitted the first patient, it determined that this was a methanol poisoning case in the working environment.

The hospital’s Poison Control Center has continuously coordinated with the Bac Ninh General Hospital to detect and treat workers poisoned with methanol.

As a result, 88 workers had their health checked and were treated at the Bac Ninh General Hospital.

Only 20 people were receiving treatment at the Poison Control Center under Bach Mai Hospital.

“The case warns of the risk of methanol poisoning in various sectors and products, which needs the authorities’ management and heavy sanctions.

“In addition, it is important to strengthen the understanding, awareness, caution, and compliance with safety requirements in production and chemical use,” doctor Nguyen stressed.

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Thanh Ha - Duong Lieu / Tuoi Tre News

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