West Virginians should have been given clearer information that the 1-part-per-million screening level for the toxic chemical "Crude MCHM" was not a "bright line" between what exposures are safe and unsafe, a top U.S. Centers for Disease Control scientist said today.Among the other misconceptions Americans have is that regulations and avid enforcement shield them from potential health hazards like the spill that sent the coal-washing chemical known as Crude MCHM into the drinking water supplies of 300,000 residents of West Virginia. What we've seen instead is what could have been a tragedy of errors in the case of Freedom Industries' sloppy, reckless storage of that chemical and the others mixed with it.
Dr. Vikas Kapil, chief medical officer for the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health, also acknowledged that government officials could have moved more quickly in issuing an advisory that pregnant women drink only bottled water until chemical levels were zero in the West Virginia American Water system. [...]
Asked to explain the delay in issuing the advisory to pregnant women, Kapil said that, "the way to answer that question is that there is some misconception among people about the screening value.
"The screening value isn't a sort of bright line between safe and unsafe," he said. "That's one of the misconceptions."
This may be the first time for Freedom Industries, but it's not the first time lax regulation and negligent management have tainted water supplies. And, until there's a much stronger Toxic Substances Control Act that doesn't allow potentially dangerous chemicals to be grandfathered into a category that isn't tested, it won't be the last time.
Yes. The CDC fouled up. Freedom Industries fouled up. The state of West Virginia fouled up by not acting on the 2011 recommendations presented to it by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board after a 2008 chemical explosion killed two.
So far, all we've seen from politicians in this matter is a lot of shuffling and staring at their feet. Some action would be nice. Real action. Not just another study to bury.