Dr. Andrew Whelton

Freedom Industries
AP

A study says federal officials overlooked risks of inhaling licorice-smelling fumes from a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest water supply.

The Purdue University study says some people became ill after flushing their pipes of the chemical last January. The spill spurred a tap-water ban for 300,000 people for days.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention marked a baseline for how much chemical-laden water people could drink safely. It didn't consider other contact methods, like bathing or breathing.

AP

  A new study shows a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's biggest drinking water supply in January could be more toxic than a previous test indicated. But the researcher behind the study cautions there are differences between his tests and earlier studies.

University of South Alabama researcher Dr. Andrew Whelton released the findings Thursday from crude MCHM toxicity tests on freshwater fleas.

Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Independent researchers working together on the taxpayer-funded WV TAP project have already released an expert odor analysis for Crude MCHM, and have delivered the findings of their 10 home testing pilot project. However, the public has repeatedly called for an understanding of potential health effects from the January spill of Crude MCHM by Freedom Industries.

Researchers involved in a taxpayer-funded, independent water testing project in response to the January 9 spill by Freedom Industries began releasing findings earlier this week. The project, known as WV TAP, is currently attempting to determine the odor threshold for the chemical in question—crude MCHM. They are also investigating the safety factors applied by the CDC in determining how much chemical can be in water and still be called safe to drink.

Dr. Michael McGuire is conducting odor analysis panels to determine at what levels Crude MCHM can be smelled in the water. Results released Monday from an expert panel conducted by McGuire put that number at 0.15 parts per billion (ppb).

Researchers took time Tuesday to answer questions about the first round of studies that have been released.

Researchers involved in the independent, taxpayer-funded testing project known as WV TAP say results from a single expert panel show that Crude MCHM can be detected by an expert human nose when analytical methods used in testing the water indicate non-detect levels.

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Dave Mistich / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

The two scientists leading the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project, or WV TAP, following the Jan. 9 chemical spill into the Elk River near Charleston provided an update on the project Friday. The briefing was held in a Department of Health and Human Resources conference room in downtown Charleston.

Dr. Andrew Whelton and Jeffrey Rosen spoke to reporters and said they have completed gathering samples of 10 homes across the area affected. Samples from both hot and cold water were taken.

Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Tuesday the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project for residents in the nine counties affected by the Jan. 9 chemical spill into Elk River.

The project, which will make use of $650,000 from the state budget according to Tomblin, will be conducted by independent scientific experts under the direction of Dr.  Andrew Whelton, assistant professor of environmental engineering at the University of South Alabama, and Corona Environmental Consulting.