Even though the water in West Virginia has been declared safe, hospital admissions related to the spill have increased.
What has transpired is that the Center for Disease Control has set safety standards for pure MCHM (4-methylcyclohexaneemethol), but the stuff polluting the Elk River was far from pure. Containing a mix of up to seven chemicals, the crude MCHM that was discharged into the Elk River was something else entirely, and the CDC safety standards set for MCHM don’t cover it when mixed with other chemicals, what is referred to as crude MCHM.
Investigators still don’t know the full composition of the 10,000 gallon discharge into the Elk River. Freedom Industries, the company responsible with maintaining the storage tanks, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and, although hit with numerous law suits regarding the spill, they have been slow to provide information on the toxic cocktail that entered the river.
“I can guarantee that citizens in this valley are, at least in some instances, breathing formaldehyde. They’re taking a hot shower. This stuff is breaking down into formaldehyde in the shower or in the water system, and they’re inhaling it.”
“It’s frightening, it really is frightening,” the Charleston Gazette quoted Simonton telling state lawmakers. ”What we know scares us, and we know there’s a lot more we don’t know.”
“We know that (crude MCHM) turns into other things, and these other things are bad,”.”And we haven’t been looking for those other things. So we can’t say the water is safe yet. We just absolutely cannot.”
Now that officials know other chemicals were present, they can start the process of hunting them down. The fear is that even though the all clear was given regarding the levels of pure MCHM, other chemicals, either singularly or in combination, could well be lurking in domestic pipes and tanks, and that those chemicals could break down into yet more harmful components.
For this reason residents have been told to flush their domestic systems to remove any lurking toxins, but even the best way to do that is open to dispute with experts disagreeing on the best method to use.
Andrew Welton, an environmental engineer from the University of South Alabama, went to West Virginia after the leak. He has been assisting residents to purge their systems, but using different guidelines to those used in West Virginia. For example, he recommends that residents should open windows and doors before starting the process and should use fans to remove fumes from homes. West Virginia officials say this is un-necessary.
Speaking to The West Virginia Gazette he said:
“I can’t believe they aren’t doing this. These issues aren’t being addressed. The long-term consequences of this spill are not being addressed.”
In another twist The commissioner of the Bureau of Public Health, Dr Letitia Tierney DISMISSED Simontons statement and said that the formaldehyde detected was unrelated to the chemical spill.
“Formaldehyde is naturally produced in very small amounts in our bodies as part of our normal, everyday metabolism and causes no harm,” Tierney’s statement said. “It can also be found in the air that we breathe at home and at work, in the food we eat, and in some products that we put on our skin.”
“Your level of what risk you will accept is up to you,” Simonton said. “I can only tell you what mine is, and I’m not drinking the water. (source)
While the arguing over who’s right and who’s wrong, it’s interesting to note that West Virginia officials are blaming the winter for some of the hospital admissions. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office pointed to many reasons why hospital admissions are rising, namely the inability of a large number of people to wash their hands, which is an odd thing to say if they believe the water is safe to use. Or maybe they have washed their hands, and that’s why they are sick.
“We’re in the middle of flu and virus season,” Dr. Letitia Tierney of the state Bureau of Public Health said in the statement. “While the [hand] sanitizer is good for cleaning, it isn’t great for eliminating a virus. Some people are getting these viruses, as many people do every winter. In addition, a lot of people are getting very anxious. Anxiety is a real diagnosis, and it can be really hard on people and it’s OK to be seen by a health professional to ensure you’re OK.”
West Virginia health officials are playing around with the well-being of 300,000 people. It would be good if they could cut the crap and sort this situation out before someone dies.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!