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Soil Quality Guidelines for Environmental Health

Behaviour and Effects in Biota
Although methanol occurs naturally in plants and animals, too much methanol can be poisonous.
In cases of human methanol poisoning, the minimum lethal dose is in the range of 300 to 1,000
mg/kg of body weight (National Toxicology Program Center for the Evaluation of Risks to
Human Reproduction 2004). Studies with non-human primates have typically yielded lethal
doses in the range of 3,000 to 7,000 mg/kg of body weight. Table 2 summarises methanol
toxicity effects in other biota.
Table 2. Effects of Methanol in Plants and Invertebrates*
Taxon Lowest effect value (mg/kg
in soil)
Effects (value given is the
Medicago sativa (alfalfa) 1,808 Depressed growth
Hordeum vulgare (barley) 2,538 Depressed growth
Elymus lanceolatus (northern
wheatgrass) 2,877 Depressed growth
Eisenia andrei (earthworm) 9,756 Depressed growth
Folsomia candida (springtail) 2,842 Reduction in the number of viable

  • Stantec Consulting Ltd., 2006
    Canadian Soil Quality Guidelines for the
    Protection of Environmental and Human Health Methanol
    Health Effects in Humans and Experimental Animals
    In humans and primates, symptoms of methanol toxicity include blurred vision and blindness,
    convulsions, tremors, coma, nausea, headache, dizziness, abdominal pain, diminished motor
    skills, acidosis, dyspnea, behavioural and emotional deficits, and speech impediments. Methanol
    can be toxic to mouse and rat embryos around the seventh day of gestation. Effects include
    skeletal abnormalities, reduced organ weight and developmental defects. Health Canada has not
    reviewed the toxicity of methanol or developed a tolerable daily intake or tolerable concentration
    for methanol.