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If you are interested in this subject, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Deborah Blum’s excellent 2011 book The Poisoner’s Handbook (https://www.amazon.com/Poisoners-Handbook-Murder-Forensic-Me...), which tells the stories of a bunch of different chemical catastrophes from the same period. Radium is covered, as well as such other “what were they thinking?” stories as the introduction of lead into gasoline and the poisoning of industrial alcohol by the government during Prohibition in a misguided effort to keep it from being turned into bootleg liquor. It’s full of fascinating case studies, and Blum has an engaging writing style that makes it a good read.

If you prefer to watch your history, PBS’ American Experience documentary series did an episode based on Blum’s book (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/poisoners ); it can be streamed via a bunch of different video services.




We still poison alcohol not only for prohibition reasons but also tax reasons.


In the EU at least the denatured alcohols sold to the general public (e.g. as cleaning products) don't have enough actual poison in them to cause much damage.

The main thing they shove in there to stop you drinking it is denatonium benzoate ("bitrex"), which will make you _regret_ putting it in your mouth, but won't kill you because you'll immediately want to spit it out instead. The other ingredients are mostly to stop you trying to get the bitrex back out and then selling it as bootleg booze (thus evading the tax).


I think Nintendo coat Switch cartridges with the same thing, to prevent kids from putting the tiny cartridges in their mouth.


What do you mean by "we poison alcohol"?




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