Methanol's structure and biological properties differ considerably from those of ethanol. Methanol is a much stronger carbon waste product, and an effective poison in the human body. It is highly soluble in water, with a solubility of 133 g/L at 20 °C. At room temperature, it boils at 83 °C. Its activity is greater than its boiling-point equivalent of ethanol, 96 °C, having been determined to have a therapeutic index of 4.4.
Methanol is a poisonous compound that causes defects in the developing central nervous system, resulting in symptoms that can include leukoencephalopathy, a cerebral hypomyelination, characterized by a white matter disease. However, methanol does not usually kill under normal circumstances. Instead, its toxicity is due to its ability to permeate the blood-brain barrier, causing the body-wide formation of toxic products.
The The Lancet Oncology review states: "In methanol-induced neurotoxicity, the most characteristic symptom is the presence of sensory and motor hallucinations possibly followed by confusion and loss of consciousness ... [methanol] continues to be a common cause of alcohol poisoning, but the incidence of severe neurologic injury is much lower than in earlier times when methanol concentrations were much higher."
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