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West Virginia Residents Still Worried About Drinking Water

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Health officials in Charleston, West Virginia have said that the drinking water is once again OK to drink after dangerous chemicals spilled into the water supply on Jan. 9. Not everyone, is buying that notion, however.
West Virginia resident Joe Merchant told CNN, when he runs the hot water, he will develop a headache within a few minutes from the steam. Merchant is just one of many people who do not feel secure about drinking or bathing in the water since the spill.
On January 9, the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, was discovered leaking from a storage tank into the Elk River and from there into Charleston’s water supply, CNN reported. Its licorice-like smell alerted residents to the contamination and led to a do-not-use order for 300,000 West Virginians, some of whom could not drink or bathe in their water for more than a week.
The spill was first estimated at 7,500 gallons, but Freedom Industries later revealed that as much as 10,000 gallons may have spilled into the river. Once the spill was first reported, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was brought in to test the water to see if it could lead to adverse effects.
While the agency discoveries led the state to lift the ban on drinking the water, the CDC has still never come out and identified the water as “safe”, leaving residents to wonder if they should really be using or drinking the water.  According to CNN, the CDC merely says that based on animal studies, levels of the chemical were calculated at levels where “a person could likely ingest without resulting in adverse health effects.”
In the days following the spill, patients sought treatment from private doctors and 10 emergency rooms in a nine-county area. They were suffering from from symptoms such as rash, nausea, vomiting and cough, Dr. Rahul Gupta, health officer and executive director of the Kanawha-Charleston and Putnam County health departments, told CNN. Grupta said about 250 people checked into the hospital in the first three days.
In some locations, the  licorice-like smell persists, leaving residents leery about the safety of the water. Gupta said the smell still exists in his home and he and his wife are avoiding tap water. Gupta told CNN only about 1% of the 200 people who attended town hall meetings late last month about the matter said they were drinking the water. Meanwhile, a recent survey found that only 4% of area residents said they are drinking tap water.
Even the CDC appears conflicted about the safety of the water, issuing a released warning pregnant women to avoid using the tap water.  “Due to limited availability of data, and out of an abundance of caution, pregnant women may wish to consider an alternative drinking water source until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system,” it said in a paper dated February 5. “For mothers with babies, there is no research that suggests consuming water with these low levels of MCHM poses any health risk to their baby. However, if you have any concerns, please consult your doctor.” disclaimer: This article: West Virginia Residents Still Worried About Drinking Water was posted on Friday, February 21st, 2014 at 6:14 pm at and is filed under Toxic Substances Lawsuits.

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