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Toxic substance found in military antiseptics

The military used antiseptics containing toxic substances over the past two years a government report said on Thursday.

According to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, a public contractor had supplied the DAPA with antiseptics that were 7 to 40 percent industrial methanol, for two years, claiming it was produced with ethanol.

The report submitted to the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee said the antiseptic was used in medical facilities to sterilize surgical equipment and disinfect skin before injection or surgery until March of 2011.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, methanol, if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, can cause permanent blindness, nausea and damage to the nervous system.

Ethanol is most commonly used in antiseptics, but can be difficult to differentiate from methanol.

Only after the Korea Food & Drug Administration released the findings regarding the tainted antiseptics this March did the DAPA halt their use in the military.

According to Rep. Park Sang-cheon of the Democratic Party, more than half of the 60,000 bottles sampled by Seoul’s Research Institute of Public Health and Environment were tainted.

During the period, some 140,000 bottles were supplied to the military by the company, and Park questioned the safety of the remaining 80,000 bottles.

By Robert Lee (robert@heraldcorp.com)
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