UPDATE: WV TAP concludes public discussion on MCHM - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: WV TAP concludes public discussion on MCHM

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UPDATE 4:05 p.m., March 28:

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources released a statement about WVTAP's conference today.

Dr. Letitia Tierney, Commissioner of the WV Bureau for Public Health and the State Health Officer, said, "I appreciate the work of the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project (WV TAP).  The testing results reported today are reassuring."

Dr. Tierney said, "We have moved from a response to a recovery phase.  Today's results reassure me that we are on the correct path."

UPDATE 2:45 p.m., March 28:

The afternoon session of the WV TAP public conference included a question and answer portion.

The panel of experts included Andrew Whelton, assistant professor at the University of South Alabama and Jeff Rosen with Corona Environmental Consulting.

Whelton took questions from Twitter as well as answered emails, while members in the crowd also asked questions.

One resident asked about the monitoring being done for companies like Freedom Industries. 

One panelist said the chemical leak raised a lot of awareness to just how much the public has to trust those companies.

The experts said the chemical companies storing chemicals including crude MCHM should be making sure they are properly storing the chemicals.

"It is a decision we need to make as a society," said Rosen. "We agree with you that more needs to be done than is being done right now."

The experts said the WV TAP project's contract concludes May 15.

Others were concerned with the air quality testing being done in homes. Experts said they have not tested the air or steam coming from hot water.

"We have not tested air quality in homes, that is not in our scope," Whelton said. "This project focuses solely on the drinking water – to predict exposures from it."

Rosen said if the community wants to ask different questions, they might get different answers.

"People have to care about this and certainly in West Virginia you guys care about this a great deal," Rosen said. "We need more resources."

The panelists said more experts will be available next Tuesday, April 1, to answer questions relating to the health effects of the chemical.

Original Story 11 a.m., March 28:

A panel of experts involved in studying crude MCHM, the chemical that spilled into the Elk River on Jan. 9, hosted a public meeting Friday to discuss their findings.

Michael McGuire, an environmental engineer with Michael J. McGuire, Inc., is part of the WV TAP (West Virginia Testing Assessment Project) and said Friday their findings have pointed to an odor threshold of 2.2 parts per billion.

McGuire said a panel of nine people were used to make that determination.

"We needed to understand how results of this expert panel work," he said. "Explain what happened and that led to recommendations that would involve consumers."

Of the nine people, there were eight concentrations of 4-MCHM presented ranging from .16 parts per billion to 100 parts per billion, in sampled water.

McGuire said seven out of nine panelists got all eight concentrations correct when tasked with determining what amount of MCHM was in them.

Andrew Whelton, an assistant professor with the University of South Alabama, is also part of WV TAP.

Whelton presented Friday the results of the 10 in-home tests that were done in the affected nine counties.

"Four of the homes had individuals who sought medical attention," he said. "Some residents had clothes that smelled like licorice for weeks after doing laundry."

He said they did detect an odor in all homes that were testing, nine of them with chlorine present at higher-than-normal levels.

"One house was actually found to have four different odors," he said. 

Whelton said no levels found in the homes exceeded the state's 10 parts per billion "safe" level. Although one home did come close, at concentrations of 6.1 parts per billion.

He also said it didn't matter if the water was hot or cold, residents were experiencing a different odor and concentration of the chemical in different circumstances.

"Depending on the home you may experience different concentrations," he added. "Your neighbor could have a different response."

The discussion is set to resume this afternoon, lasting until about 3 p.m., officials said.

"I appreciate the work of the West Virginia Testing Assessment Project (WV TAP),"

Dr. Letitia Tierney, Commissioner of the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health and

State Health Officer, said. "The testing results reported today are reassuring."

 

"The core mission of the Bureau for Public Health is the health, safety and well-being of

all West Virginians. The Bureau for Public Health embraces the values of community,

science and evidenced-based decision. The Bureau has been actively engaged in this

event since day one and we will continue to be ever vigilant.

 

We have moved from a response to a recovery phase. Today's results reassure me

that we are on the correct path."