Health Department releases more data on impacts of spill

Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department presented to the National Association of County & City Health Officials last week. His presentation, available here, provides more insights and data into the impact of the spill than anything else released by a state or local agency to date. Dr. Gupta’s analysis probably doesn’t tell those of us who experienced the water crisis anything that will surprise us, but it’s good to have real data on the public health and economic impacts of the spill – especially since these impacts have repeatedly been downplayed by the state Bureau of Public Health.

Highlights include:

  • The significant difference between the CDC’s “screening level” of 1ppm and the WVTAP project’s level of 120 ppb (eight times lower). WVTAP arrived at the lower level by taking into account the impacts of breathing and touching MCHM, not just ingesting it.
  • Flushing made people sick. Hospital visits and illnesses peaked right when the spill first happened – and then again after the “do not use” order was lifted and people were instructed to flush.
  • As late as the week of February 24th, less than 10% of people were drinking the water.
  • More than 75% of people estimated that the spill cost their household more than $100 per week through the beginning of March.

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