Dayton Carpenter provides more clear, fact-based analysis of water safety

Environmental engineer and water plant designer Dayton Carpenter has another excellent analysis of the water situation in the Charleston Gazette.

He reports the following:

  • Water company flushing may be incomplete if you live at the end of a line or in a cul-de-sac.
  • MCHM has a low partition coefficient, so it does not tend to stick to pipes.
  • Using your nose to decide when the water is safe is probably a good plan, because your nose can detect concentrations of MCHM at much lower concentrations than most testing being done by anyone.
  • Testing at the WVAW confirms that no new MCHM is coming into or out of their main water plant.
  • Chlorinated byproducts of the water disinfecting process do not appear in water company test results.


Mr. Carpenter is providing a valuable service to all of us in his accounts.  But his information does not quite fit with other observations:

  • The results of initial household water tests by Downstream Strategies (released publicly after Mr. Carpenter wrote his op ed) did find a possible chlorinated byproduct of WVAW’s disinfecting process, 3-chloro-cyclohexene.
  • Mr. Carpenter refers in his op ed to MCHM, but it is not clear whether he is referring to 4-methylcyclohexane methanol or crude MCHM which contains six other organic chemicals.
  • Mr. Carpenter never mentions PPH, the other chemical that contaminated WVAW’s water system.
  • Mr. Carpenter’s analysis of partition coefficients of organic chemicals seems to only apply to the chemical he calls “MCHM.”  Professor Whelton from the University of Southern Alabama appears to believe that there is a high potential for at least some of the chemicals in crude MCHM and/or PPH to interact with plastic and other materials in home plumbing systems.  Prof. Whelton has just received a National Science Foundation grant to investigate these interactions.  The analysis of partition coefficients is certainly a good first step, but it is at best a quick-and-dirty method in the absence of real research results.


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