WCHS Eyewitness News Home Charleston Eyewitness Newsroom Charleston Storm Team Weather Sports News TV Program Schedule Community Mobile: Smartphone,Tablet and SMS text Get Connected SMS Text Facebook Twitter See-It,Shoot-It RSS News Feed Email List Tumblr


WV Commissioner For State Bureau Of Public Health Disputes Claims About Formaldehyde

Reported: Jan. 29, 2014 3:04 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 30, 2014 8:37 AM EST
EYEWITNESS NEWS ONLINE WEBCAST VIDEO

News Image

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris, Dan Matics) -- The commissioner for the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health released a statement on Wednesday, disputing an environmental official's contention that some residents in areas affected by the water crisis are breathing formaldehyde when showering.

"Scott Simonton’s presentation to the West Virginia Joint Legislative Committee today is totally unfounded and does not speak to the health and safety of West Virginians," said Dr. Letitia Tierney, commissioner for the state Bureau for Public Health and state health officer.

Tierney said subject matter experts who have been assisting West Virginia through this entire emergency response state that the only way possible for formaldehyde to come from MCHM is if it were combusted at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

The World Health Organization states formaldehyde is the most frequent aldehyde found in nature and is naturally measurable in air and water, Tierney said. Formaldehyde is created through the normal breakdown cycle of plants and animals. Formaldehyde dissolves easily in water and does not last a long time in water.

Additionally, formaldehyde is naturally produced in very small amounts in our bodies as a part of our normal, everyday metabolism and causes no harm. It can also be found in the air that we breathe at home and at work, in the food we eat, and in some products that we put on our skin.

Formaldehyde is found in many products used every day around the house such as antiseptics, medicines, cosmetics, dish-washing liquids, fabric softeners, shoe-care agents, carpet cleaners, glues and adhesives, lacquers, paper, plastics, and some types of wood products.

"We are unaware of the specifics of how this study was conducted, including sampling procedures, protocol and methodology, and would also be interested in the possibility of some other issue affecting the testing of water at the establishment indicated," Tierney said.

Tierney said everyone has been affected by this water crises and "public health is of the utmost importance. Mr. Simonton’s has not been part of the integral team of water testing officials from numerous state, local and private agencies working non-stop since January 9. His opinion is personal but speaks in no official capacity."

Some state leaders are disputing the claim.

Tierney, with the Bureau for Public Health, said for formaldehyde to break down from MCHM, it would have to be combusted at 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

"It's unlikely that his findings are in any way related," Tierney said.

Kevin Thompson is an environmental attorney. He hired Simonton as an expert witness in his federal class action lawsuit as a result of this chemical spill.

You expect to hear this from industry, he said, referring to state leaders disputing the findings. “Not government standing up for industry."

Tierney, said formaldehyde is in most things, including water, but Thompson said his scientists say their data shows levels are higher than acceptable.




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Jeff Morris, Mamie Buoy, AP) -- West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's spokeswoman said the governor's office disputes an environmental official's contention that some residents in areas affected by the water crisis are breathing formaldehyde when showering.

Amy Shuler Goodwin said Wednesday that the governor's office believes that
Scott Simonton's comments on the subject were inaccurate. She did not elaborate.

Simonton, an Environmental Quality Board official, told a state legislative panel Wednesday that the crude MCHM that spilled into the Elk River from Freedom industries Charleston facility can break down into formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and is more toxic when inhaled. Simonton said the breakdown can happen in the shower. He called respiratory cancer the biggest risk with breathing in the chemical.

West Virginia American Water also disputed Simonton’s findings.

“We believe it is misleading and irresponsible to voice opinions on potential health impacts to residents of this community without all of the facts,” WVAW External Affairs Manager Laura Jordan said in a news release. “Procedures for water analysis are carefully prescribed, outlined and certified. WVAW will continue working with governmental health and environmental professionals and, in conjunction with these professionals, we and public health agencies will make public any reliable, scientifically sound information relating to risks to public health, if any.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story




CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Heath Harrison, AP) – A West Virginia official said that some residents in areas affected by the water crisis are breathing formaldehyde when showering.

Scott Simonton, an Environmental Quality Board official, told a state legislative panel Wednesday that the crude MCHM that spilled into the Elk River from Freedom industries Charleston facility can break down into formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is a carcinogen and is more toxic when inhaled. Simonton said the breakdown can happen in the shower. He called respiratory cancer the biggest risk with breathing in the chemical.

Simonton said he "can guarantee" some residents are breathing formaldehyde.

Initial testing at Vandalia Grille in Charleston showed traces of the chemical. Other testing showed no traces of formaldehyde, but samples are still being processed.

Many residents have reported skin irritations since the water was deemed safe, and there were numerous complaints of headaches from fumes during the flushing process.

According to the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and as a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency. Studies of workers exposed to the chemical have suggested an association between exposure and cancers, including nasopharyngeal cancer and leukemia.

Formaldehyde is considered highly toxic to all animals. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has previously said the spill had no impact on wildlife.

The Associated Press contributed to this story



MORE NEWS FROM EYEWITNESS NEWS
New Ban For Regional Jails In West Virginia
News
Apr. 16, 2014 6:39 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Chris Williams) -- Since the regional ...
Full News Story and Video

Heated Debate Sparked About Corporal Punishment In Wake Of Plants Investigation
News
Apr. 16, 2014 8:05 PM EDT
The criminal case against Kanawha County Prosecuting ...
Full News Story and Video

Police Say Man Charged After SUV Rams House In Charleston
News
Apr. 16, 2014 6:37 PM EDT
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Bob Aaron, Jeff Morris) -- Charleston ...
Full News Story and Video


News Huntington High Hosts Q&A For 3rd District Candidates
Apr. 16, 2014 6:39 PM EDT
News Search For Vehicle In River Near Point Pleasant To Resume Thursday
Apr. 16, 2014 6:40 PM EDT
News Parents Of Girl Who Shot Brother To Be Placed On Home Confinement
Apr. 16, 2014 6:40 PM EDT
News Judge Stays Most Of Ohio Gay Marriage Ruling
Apr. 16, 2014 3:25 PM EDT
News Ky. Lawmakers Finish Work Highlighted By Budget
Apr. 16, 2014 3:24 PM EDT
News WV Official Says $2 Million In Chemical Spill Response Costs Reimbursable
Apr. 16, 2014 3:46 PM EDT
News Rahall Raises $324,000 In 3rd District Race; Jenkins $194,000
Apr. 16, 2014 3:33 PM EDT
News Energy State Democrats In Senate Races Split From Obama
Apr. 16, 2014 3:05 PM EDT
News Freeze Warning In Effect For Thursday Early Morning Hours
Apr. 16, 2014 2:57 PM EDT
News Boy Scout Groups Based in Huntington, Charleston Discuss Merging
Apr. 16, 2014 1:56 PM EDT
News Charleston Gearing Up For Heart Walk
Apr. 16, 2014 1:01 PM EDT
News New Report Says High-Quality Child Care Programs Lacking In Mountain State
Apr. 16, 2014 10:55 AM EDT
News Couple Charged With Bringing Drugs Into Scioto County Jail
Apr. 16, 2014 10:17 AM EDT
News Touching Banned During Regional Jail Visits
Apr. 16, 2014 8:36 AM EDT
News Charleston Coping With Bitter Cold
Apr. 15, 2014 9:18 PM EDT
News Man Indicted On Charges He Threatened To Kill U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin
Apr. 15, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
News Putnam County Plans To File Lawsuit Against Waste Management
Apr. 15, 2014 5:32 PM EDT
News Williamson Mayor Charged In Federal Information
Apr. 15, 2014 4:55 PM EDT
News State Police Say Logan County Man Faces Charges After Stolen Items Found At His Home
Apr. 15, 2014 3:22 PM EDT
News Body Of Man Discovered In Athens County Creek Identified
Apr. 15, 2014 3:08 PM EDT
News Former U.S. Rep. Mick Staton Dies
Apr. 15, 2014 3:23 PM EDT
News Road Reopens In Greenup County After Explosives Removed
Apr. 15, 2014 1:12 PM EDT
News Last Day to File Taxes and Sign Up for Obamacare Is Today
Apr. 15, 2014 5:24 PM EDT
News Obama To Observe Boston Marathon Bombing Anniversary With Moment Of Silence
Apr. 15, 2014 12:55 PM EDT
News Freeze Warning In Effect Overnight With Temperatures To Plummet
Apr. 15, 2014 12:19 PM EDT
News Judge Zakaib To Hear City Effort To Ban Prosecutor Mark Plants From Domestic Violence Cases
Apr. 15, 2014 11:29 AM EDT
News Vandalism Incident At Capitol Center Under Investigation
Apr. 15, 2014 11:26 AM EDT
News Jacobs-Jones Named Senior Vice President For Operations At Marshall University
Apr. 16, 2014 12:51 PM EDT
News Putnam Commissioners Plan Legal Action Seeking To Force Removal Of MCHM From Landfill
Apr. 15, 2014 10:16 AM EDT
News Human Skeletal Remains Found In Wyoming County On Property Of Murder Suspect In Unrelated Case
Apr. 15, 2014 9:12 AM EDT


Advertise on WCHS-TV Online

West Virginia News
Cars on coal train en route to Va. derail in W.Va.

Crews are cleaning up after a dozen cars of a coal train destined for export from Virginia derailed in southern West Virginia.
Full Story

Kentucky News
Jury convicts ex-priest in sodomy case

A jury in Louisville has convicted a former Catholic priest of three counts of sodomy in a case stemming from the 1970s.
Full Story

Ohio News
Swerving Cincinnati transit bus hits 2 buildings

Authorities in Cincinnati say a public transit bus swerved to avoid a vehicle and struck two buildings in an accident that left the bus driver with an injury reported as a broken leg.
Full Story

PREVIOUS NEWS: NOV | CURRENT







Fugitive Files Tuesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

West Virginia Wildlife Wednesdays at 6 PM on Eyewitness News

ABC News web site







Send Mail Send email to news@wchstv.com for information or comments concerning WCHS-TV Eyewitness News.
Copyright ©2014, WCHS-TV8. Portions are Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or distributed.

WCHS ABC 8 provides local news, weather forecasts, traffic updates, notices of events and items of interest in the community, sports and entertainment programming for Charleston and nearby towns and communities in the Tri-State area, including Huntington, Dunbar, Marmet, Montgomery, Nitro, South Charleston, St. Albans, Cedar Grove, Chesapeake, Clendenin, East Bank, Glasgow, Pratt, Cross Lanes, Elkview, Pinch, Sissonville, Big Chimney, Cabin Creek, Chelyan, Davis Creek, Institute, Jefferson, Loudendale, Mink Shoals, Pocatalico, Quick, Quincy, Rand, Buffalo, Eleanor, Hurricane, Nitro, Poca, Winfield, Culloden, Fraziers Bottom, Hometown, Red House, Scott Depot, Teays Valley, Danville, Madison, Hamlin, Logan, Chapmanville, Man, Delbarton, Kermit, Gilbert, Matewan, Williamson, Summersville, Richwood, Flatwoods, Gassaway, Sutton, Spencer, Ravenswood, Ripley, Mason, Point Pleasant, Ashland, Pikeville, Ironton, Portsmouth, Gallipolis, and Athens.