The Composition of Surrogate Alcohols Consumed in Russia.

European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.
Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research (Impact Factor: 3.21). 11/2005; 29(10):1884-8.
Source: PubMed


In the course of a case-control study examining determinants of premature death among working age men, it became clear that a significant percentage of the population (7.3%) were drinking a variety of surrogate alcohol products (products not legally sold for consumption). In this population, where there is a high death rate from alcohol-related causes, including acute alcohol poisoning, it was important to know what these products contained.
The identity of products being consumed was identified from the survey of controls. Representative samples were obtained and subjected to analysis using gas chromatography and mass spectrometry to determine their composition.
Three broad groups of product were identified: samogon (home-produced spirits); medicinal compounds; and other spirits (mainly sold as aftershaves). Commercially produced vodkas were used for comparison. Samogon contained lower quantities of ethanol than vodka [mean, 39 vs. 44 volumetric percentage (v/v%), respectively] but in addition contained certain toxic long-chain alcohols. Medicinal compounds contained only ethanol, at a higher concentration that vodka (mean, 66 v/v%), while the other spirits, which were also essentially pure ethanol, contained a mean of 94 v/v%.
A significant number of Russian men are drinking products that have either very high concentrations of ethanol or contaminants known to be toxic. These products are untaxed and thus much less expensive than vodka. There is an urgent need for policy responses that target their production and consumption.

Download full-text


Available from: Attila Sarvary
  • Source
    • "Cheapness was quoted commonly as a reason for moonshine consumption [9] [19]. It appears, however, that for almost half of the respondents, the main motive for consuming samogon is the belief that it is a chemically purer product than the licensed vodka. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: This study explores types of alcohol and surrogates consumed, patterns of consumption, and reasons behind noncommercial alcohol consumption among alcohol-dependent patients in Belarus. The study was conducted in the Belarusian city Grodno in 2012 with 223 alcoholics admitted to narcological clinic using structured interviews. The results suggest that at least 20.2% of alcohol dependent patients regularly consume samogon and 11.8% of patients use surrogates, the most popular among which are medications with a high percentage of ethanol and industrial spirits. The belief that, according to quality criteria, samogon exceeds licensed vodka is the main motive for its consumption. The results of this study suggest the existence of the problem of consumption of noncommercial alcohol among alcohol dependent patients in Belarus.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2013
  • Source
    • "Medicinal and surrogate alcohol contained 70% vol of alcohol on average. Similarly, McKee et al. (2005) "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: In 2005, 30% of all alcohol consumption in Russia was unrecorded. This paper describes the chemical composition of unrecorded and low cost alcohol, including a toxicological evaluation. Alcohol products (n=22) from both recorded and unrecorded sources were obtained from three Russian cities (Saratov, Lipetsk and Irkutsk) and were chemically analyzed. Unrecorded alcohols included homemade samogons, medicinal alcohols and surrogate alcohols. Analysis included alcoholic strength, levels of volatile compounds (methanol, acetaldehyde, higher alcohols), ethyl carbamate, diethyl phthalate (DEP) and polyhexamethyleneguanidine hydrochloride (PHMG). Single samples showed contamination with DEP (275-1269 mg/l) and PHMG (515 mg/l) above levels of toxicological concern. Our detailed chemical analysis of Russian alcohols showed that the composition of vodka, samogon and medicinal alcohols generally did not raise major public health concerns other than for ethanol. It was shown, however, that concentration levels of DEP and PHMG in some surrogate alcohols make these samples unfit for human consumption as even moderate drinking would exceed acceptable daily intakes.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2011 · Interdisciplinary toxicology
  • Source
    • "The first group, which contained the majority of articles were broadly classified as a " policy need " category. They identified certain detrimental health effects of unrecorded alcohol and concluded that there was a need for alcohol policy measures or interventions (hence the inclusion of these key words in the articles) (Gorgulho & Da Ros, 2006; John et al., 2009; Kanteres, Lachenmeier, & Rehm, 2009; Kurian, Kuruvilla, & Jacob, 2006; Lachenmeier, Kanteres, & Rehm, 2009; Lachenmeier, Lima, et al., 2010; Lachenmeier & Rehm, 2009; Lachenmeier, Rehm, & Gmel, 2007; Lachenmeier et al., in press; Lachenmeier & Sohnius, 2008; Lang, Väli, Szücs, Ádány, & McKee, 2006; Leitz, Kuballa, Rehm, & Lachenmeier, 2009; Leon et al., 2007; Leon, Shkolnikov, & McKee, 2009; Lindström, 2005; Luginaah & Dakubo, 2003; MacDonald, Wells, & Giesbrecht, 1999; McKee et al., 2005; Norström, 1998; Onya & Flisher, 2006; Pärna, Lang, Raju, Väli, & McKee, 2007; Pomerleau et al., 2008; Popova, Rehm, Patra, & Zatonski, 2007; Rehm, Klotshce, et al., 2007; Rehm et al., 2003; Rehm, Sulkowska, et al., 2007; Rehm et al., 2009; Rehm, Kanteres, et al., 2010; Rehm, Taylor, et al., 2010; Zaridze et al., 2009). This category further includes observational literature on the problem of cross-border shopping in Nordic countries particularly (Bygvrå, 2009; Grittner & Bloomfield, 2009; Lavik & Nordlund, 2009; Mäkelä, Bloomfield, Gustafsson, Huhtanen, & Room, 2008; Ramstedt & Gustafsson, 2009; Svensson, 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: According to the World Health Organization, the public health impact of illicit alcohol and informally produced alcohol should be reduced. This paper summarizes and evaluates the evidence base about policy and intervention options regarding unrecorded alcohol consumption. A systematic review of the literature using electronic databases. The literature on unrecorded consumption was sparse with less than 30 articles about policy options, mostly based on observational studies. The most simplistic option to reduce unrecorded consumption would be to lower recorded alcohol prices to remove the economic incentive of buying unrecorded alcohol. However, this may increase the net total alcohol consumption, making it an unappealing public health policy option. Other policy options largely depend on the specific sub-group of unrecorded alcohol. The prohibition of toxic compounds used to denature alcohol (e.g. methanol) can improve health outcomes associated with surrogate alcohol consumption. Cross-border shopping can be reduced by either narrowing the tax differences, or stricter control. Actions limiting illegal trade and counterfeiting include introduction of tax stamps and electronic surveillance systems of alcohol trade. Education campaigns might increase the awareness about the risks associated with illegal alcohol. The most problematic category appears to be the home and small-scale artisanal production, for which the most promising option is to offer financial incentives to the producers for registration and quality control. Even though there are suggestions and theories on how to reduce unrecorded alcohol consumption, there is currently no clear evidence base on the effectiveness or cost effectiveness of available policy options. In addition, the differences in consumption levels, types of unrecorded alcohol, culture and tradition point to different measures in different parts of the world. Thus, the recommendation of a framework for moving forward in decision making currently seems premature. Instead, there is a need for systematic research.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2011 · The International journal on drug policy
Show more