UPDATE: Local Health Officials Urge CDC to Reconsider More Testing

By: The Associated Press Email
By: The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 6/27/14 @ 6:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- State officials are lobbying for more testing after the CDC said they will not fund tests on long-term health effects of MCHM.

During the height of the January chemical crisis, just before delivering her baby boy, the last thing on Kayla Sansom's mind was the safety of her drinking water.

"They tell you when you're pregnant to drink a gallon of water a day, so I didn't find out until about 10 or 11 that night when I was at work and when I found out, I had already had over a gallon of water that day," Sansom said.

Now it's not just worrying about her boy learning to walk, ride a bike, or go to college. The future of his health is this new mom's focus.

"He doesn't weigh very much and how the chemical will affect his small body compared to other people's big bodies, it does worry me," Sansom said. "I don't want him to drink it."

Her concerns may not be addressed, though, at least not any time soon. The CDC says they will not provide testing on the long-term health effects of MCHM. It's a decision Dr. Rahul Gupta says is based only on initial testing.

"Their decision that was made was quite early. In a lot of ways we believe it was premature, because a lot of the science had not been evaluated," Gupta said.

The CDC says their reason is because long-term health effects from MCHM are unlikely.

"When you make decisions, you've got to be able to adequately and fully explain the decision and the basis for those decisions that you make," Gupta said. "We're talking about the health impact of 300,000 people in this nation and perhaps future generations, as well."

The CDC does have the opportunity to change their mind, something Gupta hopes happens soon. He says other federal organizations like The National Institute of Health could provide testing.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Federal officials aren't granting a state request for more animal tests for a chemical that spilled into West Virginia's largest drinking water supply in January.

In February, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin asked for additional tests to determine the long-term health effects of consuming, breathing or coming in contact with the spilled chemical, crude MCHM.

In a March 13 letter made public Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told state health officials it believed long-term effects were unlikely.

CDC described plans only to track trends with resources like birth defects surveillance, cancer registries and health systems data.

State officials are still lobbying for study money.

After the spill, CDC used limited lab research to determine a chemical level safe enough to lift a days-long tap-water ban for 300,000 people.

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