More than 100,000 Had Symptoms During Elk River Water Spill

Updated 4 years ago Edited by Tony Rutherford from Multiple Reports

The number of people impacted by the Freedom Industries spill into the Elk River in January has risen dramatically, based on data released by the executive director of the Kanawha Charleston Health Department, Dr. Rahul Gupta and Dr. Andrew Whelton, a member of the WV TAP (West Virginia Testing Assessment Project).

During a teleconference the two doctors revealed that approximately 100,000 people experienced "symptoms" based on 92,568 outpatient visits and in home testing by Dr. Whelton totaled 108,819. Common symptoms were skin irritations, nausea and eye irritations on January 9, the first day of the spill. A second spike occurred on January 13 when portions of the populations began flushing their systems. Symptoms were experienced at home, at work or at food establishments. These statistics came from nine to ten physicians through Feb. 9 and extrapolated for 1,600 Kanawha and Putnam County health care providers.


The WV Department of Health and Human Resources had previously reported 533 people treated and released from hospitals and 26 admitted.

Dr. Gupta called the early results likely "grossly under reported" and "the tip of the iceberg."

On Tuesday night, April 22, panelists discussed the crisis in a town meeting at South Charleston's LaBelle Theater.

The panel included Sen. Joe Manchin,  U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre, state epidemiologist Loretta Haddy, Dr. Rahul Gupta, State Senate Majority Leader John Unger, D-Berkeley, and West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection Director Randy Huffman provided status reports and answered audience questions.

Rep. Capito has, in a news release to WSAZ-TV, asked the Center for Disease Control for additional information on the testing of MCHM, the chemical released into the water. The questions asked by Capito can be found at:




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