Water Crisis
5:59 pm
Wed January 29, 2014

State Health Officials, Water Company Say Reports of Formaldehyde Are 'Misleading', 'Unfounded'

Credit Foo Conner / Flickr

Officials from the Bureau for Public Health and West Virginia American Water released separate statements regarding Dr. Scott Simonton's testimony Wednesday to Joint Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, calling his remarks on the discovery of formaldehyde in the water of a Charleston restaurant "unfounded", "misleading", and "irresponsible."

In a release from the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Commissioner and State Health Officer Dr. Letitia Tierney said experts who have been assisting the state through this response say that the only way possible for formaldehyde to come from MCHM is if it were combusted at 500°F. 
 
Dr. Tierney cited The World Health Organization (WHO) and says formaldehyde is the most frequent aldehyde found in nature and is naturally measurable in air and water.  Formaldehyde is created through the normal breakdown cycle of plants and animals. 

"Formaldehyde dissolves easily in water and does not last a long time in water," said Dr. Tierney in the statement issued Wednesday afternoon.

"Additionally, formaldehyde is naturally produced in very small amounts in our bodies as a part of our normal, everyday metabolism and causes no harm," she added.
 
The Bureau for Public Health says they are unaware of Dr. Simonton's testing procedures and notes they are interested in finding out whether another issue is affecting Vandalia Grill.

In a separate statement, West Virginia American Water said the following:

“We believe it is misleading and irresponsible to voice opinions on potential health impacts to residents of this community without all of the facts. Procedures for water analysis are carefully prescribed, outlined and certified. West Virginia American Water will continue working with governmental health and environmental professionals and, in conjunction with these professionals, we and  public health agencies will make public any reliable, scientifically sound  information relating to risks to public health, if any. As a regulated water utility, West Virginia American Water adheres to industry best practices and is in compliance with all federal and state regulations and guidelines.”