|Brominated vegetable oil in Mountain Dew.|
Yes, Mountain Dew (and other citrus-flavored soft drinks) contain brominated vegetable oils, you can read it right on the label. There's nothing particularly bad about this, it's just curious, and one of not many commonly encountered applications of bromine.
Surprisingly, while millions drink such sodas daily without ill effect, there are, according to a wonderful email I received from reader Noah Horwitz shortly after adding this sample, at least two documented cases in the medical literature of bromine poisoning through soft drinks. In one case a patient developed "Bromoderma", ulcers on the hands, after drinking 8 liters a day of Ruby Red Squirt. Frankly I would have thought that if you drink 8 liters a day of any soft drink bromine poisoning would be the least of your worries, but apparently not. The other case is summarized in this abstract:
Bromism from excessive cola consumption.In short: Don't drink multiple liters of citrus flavored sodas every day for months on end or you're liable to keel over.
B. Zane Horowitz.
Journal of Toxicology: Clinical Toxicology. 35.n3 (May 1997): pp315(6). (3222 words)
Background: Bromism is an unusual occurrence. Historically bromism has been known to occur with chronic ingestion of bromide salts used as sleep medications. In this case, excessive consumption of a cola with brominated vegetable oil caused a severe case of bromism. Case Report: The patient presented with headache, fatigue, ataxia, and memory loss which progressed over 30 days. He consumed 2 to 4 L of cola containing brominated vegetable oil on a daily basis before presenting with these symptoms. His significantly elevated serum chloride, as measured by ion specific methods, and negative anion gaps were overlooked during a prior hospitalization and emergency department visits. A focal neurologic finding of right eyelid ptosis led to an extensive evaluation for a central nervous system lesion. The patient continued to deteriorate, until he was no longer able to walk. A diagnosis of severe bromism was eventually made and his serum bromide was confirmed at 3180 mg/L (39.8 mmol/L). Despite saline loading the patient failed to improve but subsequent hemodialysis dramatically cleared his clinical condition, and reduced his serum bromide levels. The unilateral eyelid ptosis, a rarely reported finding in bromism, also resolved with hemodialysis. Conclusions: A negative anion gap or an elevated serum chloride should prompt an evaluation for bromism. In this case hemodialysis dramatically improved the patient's clinical condition and reduced the half-life of bromide to 1.38 h.
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 11 March, 2009
Text Updated: 17 March, 2009