The Chemicals We Don’t Know: is West VA’s Chemical Spill Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

The Chemicals We Don’t Know: is West VA’s Chemical Spill Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

Five and a half weeks after a chemical spill in West VA and we still don’t know much about the chemical, Crude MCHM, that has alarmed officials in the state and increasingly, across the country. What little we do know gives a false sense of security: used to process coal, MCHM is made up almost entirely of the chemical called 4-methylcyclohexanemethol. It is listed in the Toxnet chemical database of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as a skin, eye, and respiratory system irritant. The CDC conducted a study that recommended 1ppm (part per million) for safe levels of MCHM in drinking water (as of a week ago, the group Appalachian Voices’ Appalachian Water Watch reported that levels of MCHM just near the site of the spill was 1.130 ppm).

This recommendation, and the implication that it MCHM is now undergoing intense evaluation, may be giving some people a false sense of security...

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