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What We Are Learning About MCHM Testing

Reported: Jan. 17, 2014 10:25 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 17, 2014 11:07 PM EST
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Charleston, W.Va. – (By Stefano DiPietrantonio) We have an update now for you, as the water crisis captures the attention of scientists all over the world, what some scientists are saying about the chemical MCHM.

We spoke with a Senior Chemist in Washington, D.C. and a Professor from Marshall University’s Chemistry Department. Here’s what they’re saying about the testing of the chemical that leaked into our water supply.

Both scientists pointed to the Eastman study, which was done. As you’ll recall, Eastman is the manufacturer of MCHM. And they point to some of the mistakes, they said, are being made in the testing of our water. Instead of testing for everything that comes with crude MCHM, the tests we’re told may have only detected the one element.

Jennifer Sass, who is a Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, D.C. told us, there are 6 different components to MCHM. And, that you can think of the other 5 elements mixed in, as boosters. It’s kind of the way our laundry boosters work in detergents. They’re put in there, she said, to enhance the main ingredient’s performance. She said MCHM is accounts for about 80-percent of the mixture.

The scientists we spoke with said the water company and the CDC were not testing for those boosters and that could be cause for concern.

"They're there on purpose to make the main chemical more effective,” said Dr. Jennifer Sass, who is a Senior Scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council “And that could make it more toxic, it might make it last longer."

"If it's a kit, then it's probably generic for organic chemicals that they're looking for, even if they are looking at all five at once,” said Michael Castellani with the Marshall University Chemistry Department. “If it's a specific test for that chemical, then it's not going to work for the other four."

Castellani told us, it all depends on the methodology. But either way, we’re all getting an education on what it means, when we’re talking about parts per million. Doing the math, Castellani said, one part per million, is equal to one drop out of 13 gallons of liquid. But until we learn more about MCHM, even knowing one drop is present, is not enough for some folks to feel safe about drinking or using their tap water.



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