Five schools tested show higher levels of MCHM

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Health and Human Resources announced Friday afternoon that five schools in the nine-county water emergency area have tested at higher than acceptable levels for the chemical MCHM.

The state said 107 schools have been tested and results are back for 83. Five of those 83 show higher levels than 10 parts-per-billion. The remaining 78 schools show “Non-Detect” levels.

The levels are said to be below the 1 part-per-million “safe level” determined by the CDC but above the state’s more stringent 10 parts-per-billion “Non-Detect” level. The state went to the more stringent test level after the Do Not Use order was lifted for all zones in the nine-county area.

“It is important for students, parents and educators to understand that the five schools highlighted by the most recent round of testing were well below the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) recommended level, but were not yet at the more stringent screening level that the interagency team was directed to achieve beyond the CDC guidelines,”  West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jim Phares said in a prepared statement.

George Washington High in Charleston is one of three schools in Kanawha County that show higher than acceptable levels of MCHM.

Three of the five schools with higher levels are in Kanawha County. School officials said Friday bottled water would continue to be used at George Washington High School and John Adams Middle School in Charleston along with Andrew Heights Elementary School in Tornado. The other schools are Buffalo High School in Putnam County and Lincoln County High School in Hamlin.

(See testing results here)

Kanawha County School Board President Pete Thaw said flushing would continue at the schools through the weekend in hopes of lowering the levels of MCHM.

The state DEP said Friday a buried pipe containing MCHM was struck by crews Thursday doing remediation work at the Freedom Industries site where the chemical leak took place Jan. 9. The MCHM in the pipe did not make it into the Elk River Thursday night. It was caught in a drainage ditch. The agency said the pipe was not included in a map of the site.


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