Chemical Contamination of Elk River Causes West Virginia Health Hazard

The public health emergency began on Thursday, January 9, 2014 when the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM), from a tank owned by Freedom Industries leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank along the Elk River.

Nine West Virginia counties and as many as 300,000 people have been affected, and water has been shut off to these areas for five days. Residents in these counties were told to not drink, bathe in, or wash their dishes or clothes with their water, which could only be used for flushing toilets.

The Governor of West Virginia announced the White House has approved a federal emergency declaration to assist with the emergency water situation in nine West Virginia counties.

The state of emergency resulting from the chemical spill includes West Virginia American Water customers in Kanawha, Cabell, Boone, Putnam, Lincoln, Logan, Clay, Roane and Jackson counties.

According to West Virginia State Health officials, at least five people have been hospitalized and hundreds of residents have called the West Virginia Poison Center to report concerns or symptoms of toxic exposure related to a chemical spill in the Elk River, including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes, headache, and reddened skin.

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