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Gupta Says More Research Needed On Long-Term Impact Of Chemical Spill

Reported: May. 21, 2014 12:06 PM EDT
Updated: May. 21, 2014 5:10 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Bob Aaron) -- The head of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department told the West Virginia House of Delegates on Wednesday that more research is critical to determining the long-term impact of January chemical spill that contaminated drinking water in nine counties.

But Dr. Rahul Gupta is unsure who -- if anyone -- will pay for it.

Gupta said research has shown that a lot of people ignored the do-not-use order and drank tap water after the Freedom Industries spill and that the chemical has remained in the system long enough to raise concerns about its long-term impact.

Gupta outlined the latest research released last week that shows more people using the water than trust it. He said a surprising number of people elected to drink tap water during the do-not-use phase and the persistence of the licorice smelling chemical in the water makes for real concerns about its unknown long-term effects. While it has dropped below the known danger level now, the chemical’s exposure period was long enough to make long-term medical monitoring an issue.

The state Bureau for Public Health is exploring the possibility of long term monitoring of people exposed to MCHM. There is not much data about short-term effects and none about the long-term impact. Gupta said it could cost millions of dollars over a period of more than a decade to get answers. It may be more than private and college researchers can do without federal help.



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