Health & Science
6:03 pm
Thu January 16, 2014

So, How Did The CDC Come Up With MCHM Being 'Safe' Under 1 PPM, Anyway?

 

Credit Chad Matlick / Dave Mistich / Information provided by the CDC

It's now been a week since the chemical spill at Freedom Industries in Charleston leaked roughly 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM into the Elk River and tainted the water supply of some 300,000 residents of the Kanawha Valley and surrounding areas. Many residents remain suspicious of the water quality after the State Bureau for Public Health--in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention--advised pregnant women Wednesday night not to drink water until the chemical is untraceable in West Virginia American Water's system.

The CDC had been quiet about the impact on MCHM in West Virginia's water supply until Wednesday's warning to expecting mothers and hadn't spoken to media since the spill. However, the agency finally broke its silence on the matter Thursday morning, speaking to Ken Ward and David Gutman of The Charleston Gazette, saying that it's "almost as if we're learning as we go" regarding the potential effects of the spilled chemical.

The CDC also fielded questions from local and national media on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

"This is a dynamic and evolving event," Dr. Vikas Kapil, chief medical officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Environmental Health, said repeatedly on Thursday's conference call.

Dr. Kapil said only a few animal studies on MCHM exist and CDC scientists are working to make summaries of those studies available to the media and the public. He also pointed out that studies are not available on the chemical as it relates to cancer or reproductive health in animals.