Mountain Dew is a popular soft drink, especially with teenagers. The company’s website sports a very cool looking advertisement for its “backwoods original” recipe – which calls for real sugar, as opposed to artificial sweeteners, and offers a not-so-subtle comparison to moonshine. In Tennessee, though, “dewshine” has a much more deadly connotation.
In late January of 2016, the tragic deaths of two teenagers was linked to a mix of the soda with methanol-based racing fuel. In an interview with CNN, Dr. Donna Seger, executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, called the deaths an “unfortunate accident,” as she believes the teens meant to mix the soda with ethanol, not methanol. Two other young men were hospitalized for drinking the mixture; they survived. Toxicology results are not yet back, but there seems to be no doubt what the culprit is.
This is an example of a larger problem
Dr. Seger admitted she is worried; “dewshine” isn’t new to Tennessee teens. As she says, “Typically, people don’t come up with names for something if it’s an isolated event. We need to educate people.” The Tennessean reports that over time, methanol exposure can lead to:
- Blurred vision
It can take as few as 2 ounces and as much as 8 ounces to kill an adult. Teens may need even less. Remember, methanol is used in racing fuel. It’s also used in solvents and pesticides. It’s so dangerous that Centers for Disease Control recommends protective suits and SCUBA gear for first responders who need to enter a contaminated area, and warns on its website that “Methanol reacts violently with strong oxidants, causing a fire and explosion hazard.” This is the chemical those young men were drinking.
As parents, it is vitally important that we speak with our children about this deadly concoction. It seems to be a local brew, according to the paper, as no cases have been reported outside of Tennessee. Even if the victims had mixed the soda with ethanol, they still could have suffered from alcohol poisoning, or gotten into a car accident, or fallen and hurt themselves. If they are using methanol instead because they cannot access ethanol, then they are in even greater danger. We urge you to speak to your children about the dangers of dewshine: it could potentially save their lives.
Banks & Jones provides comprehensive personal injury services to people in and around Tennessee. We invite you to contact us to set up a no-obligation consultation with an experienced Knoxville personal injury attorney to discuss your case.