ATLANTA, Ga., — West Virginia’s January water crisis captured the attention of the nation’s news networks for a day or two, but it has been on the minds of local health officials across the country ever since. Thursday, West Virginia’s leading responders to the contamination in January were part of a panel discussion in Atlanta before the National Association of City and County Health Officials Conference.

“Everybody wants to know not only what happened here, but be able to understand what they can do in their communities to better prepare to respond to something like this,” said Kanawha Charleston Health Department Director Dr. Rahul Gupta.

The most groundbreaking revelations in the plenary session came from Dr. Andrew Whelton who headed the WVTAP project following the chemical spill at Freedom Industries. New information about a National Science Foundation Study was posted to the Whelton Group’s website ahead of the session.

(Read Whelton Group report findings here)

“CRUDE MCHM was much more toxic to the freshwater indicator organism Daphnia magna than what Eastman Chemical Company found in their 1998 study.”

The information further stated:

“By applying a 48 hour exposure test, an effective concentration (EC50) of CRUDE MCHM of about 50 mg/L and a No Observed Effect Level (NOEC) of 6.25 mg/L. In contrast, Eastman Chemical Company’s 1998 report cited an EC50 of 98.1 mg/L and NOEC of 50 mg/L. The lower the EC50 and NOEC, the less amount of CRUDE MCHM is needed to cause toxicity.”

“Further complicating toxicity data reported by Eastman Chemical Company is that on their own CRUDE MSDS sheets from 2005 and 2011 the NOEC value reported was actually 40 mg/L, not 50 mg/L as they reported in the 1998 toxicity testing final report.”

Gupta and Whelton were joined by state Adjutant General James Hoyer and officials from the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy. Gupta said the organization wanted to spotlight West Virginia’s water crisis to learn from the response, but he said he was glad to get the chance because of the opportunity to keep his call for extensive medical monitoring on the front burner.

“We’re working and showcasing what we’ve done to the nation as we speak this week,” said Gupta. “Hopefully, it will get the attention it needs to have long term medical monitoring in a meaningful manner.”

Gupta said the audience and location matters. Atlanta is the home of the Centers for Disease Control and many of the CDC personnel were among those listening at the conference.


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  • Wirerowe

    I fear for the personal safety and life of anyone who gets between dr. Gupta and a camera or microphone. That is a greater public health risk than exposure to MCMH. Dr one more study Welden.

  • Larry

    No fish or other aquatic animals, or animals who drank from the river were reported dead or sickened from the spill.

    • Savage

      Chemicals in cigarettes or consuming lead paint won't kill you immediately either but long term exposure can lead to long term health problems up to and including death. You work for Freedom do ya?

      • Mburg

        Savage - I agree with you. Larry must be an employee of Freedom Industires, Otherwise, he is one of the high school dropouts who pose as Chemist spouting off about nothing is wrong with the chemicals being in the water. It does not take a scientist to know that long term consumption of these chemical will have an impact. The interesting or main point of this article is "the situation is worse than what was felt before" Meaning: This can cause more problem than was previously thought? At least that is my understanding..

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  • Randy

    Bet lots of people look back with fond memories of the officials and experts who told everyone that all was well.