Recent analysis of palm wine, a traditional drink fermented mainly by yeasts, revealed the presence of several chemicals that were not products of yeast fermentation. The chemicals included styrene, benzene, trimethyldioxolane, dichloromethane, methylene fluoride, dichloroethanol, benzylisoquinoline and tetraacetyl-d
-xylonic nitrile. A review of the concentrations of these compounds in palm wine found that the benzene concentrations in all samples reviewed ranged from 56–343 ppm and were within permissible limits, whereas the styrene values (1505–5614 ppm) in all the palm wine samples evaluated were well over the recommended concentration that is immediately dangerous to life or health. Other chemical compounds evaluated varied according to location or sample source. The concentrations obtained are estimates only and a quantitative study needs to be carried out before the impact of these chemicals on health is evaluated. A search on The PubChem Project, the open chemical database, showed the description, properties and uses of these chemicals. Further searches carried out within other databases like PubMed, Scopus and Google Scholar, using each chemical’s name as a search term, showed possible hazards and adverse health conditions caused by these chemicals, especially styrene, benzene and dichloromethane. The point at which the chemicals are introduced into the drink is still not clear and requires further investigation. The chemicals can be hazardous to humans and there is need to establish and maintain a system that can guarantee permissible levels in the drink. This can be carried out using concentrations of the chemicals that are already known to be immediately dangerous to life or health as a reference point.
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