New Crude MCHM Toxicity Results Suggest West Virginia Spill More Toxic

Updated 3 years ago Special to HuntingtonNews.Net
New Crude MCHM Toxicity Results Suggest West Virginia Spill More Toxic
On July 10, 2014 Dr. Andrew Whelton will release new CRUDE MCHM toxicity data during the closing plenary session of the National Association of City and County Health Officials Conference (NACCHO). The NACCHO event is being held in Atlanta, Georgia and is providing  local health officials and their public health partners from around the country information needed to improve public health for the people they serve. The closing plenary session focuses on what city and county health officials can do prepare to respond to large-scale drinking water contamination incidents. The other closing speakers include Dr. Rahul Gupta of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, Major General James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard, and Dr. David Latif of the University of Charleston.

Whelton’s presentation centers around the role of science during the West Virginia Water Crisis and, how by the application of sound science and engineering principles, professionals can help communities respond to and recover from disasters. Much of his presentation highlights the work carried-out by his students, faculty colleagues, and the international WVTAP team of experts. The July 10 National Association of City and County Health Officials Conference presentation PDF file can be downloaded here: Whelton NACCHO Presentation File. The new data to be released by Whelton’s National Science Foundation research group reveals several key findings. Graduate student Caroline Novy was instrumental in the conduct of this work.
  • CRUDE MCHM was much more toxic to the freshwater indicator organism Daphnia magna than what Eastman Chemical Company found in their 1998 study. 
  • Whelton’s team determined, by applying a 48 hour exposure test, an effective concentration (EC50) of CRUDE MCHM of about 50 mg/L and a No Observed Effect Level (NOEC) of 6.25 mg/L. In contrast, Eastman Chemical Company’s 1998 report cited an EC50 of 98.1 mg/L and NOEC of 50 mg/L. The lower the EC50 and NOEC, the less amount of CRUDE MCHM is needed to cause toxicity.
  • Further complicating toxicity data reported by Eastman Chemical Company is that on their own CRUDE MSDS sheets from 2005 and 2011 the NOEC value reported was actually 40 mg/L, not 50 mg/L as they reported in the 1998 toxicity testing final report.
Dr. Whelton has mentioned that his team followed nearly identical experimental conditions to those applied by Eastman Chemical Company in 1998 (i.e., water chemistry, same concentrations, photo period, duplicates). However, Whelton’s group did deviate by replicating their testing three different times as they wanted to be certain of the result. Eastman Chemical Company only reported conducting toxicity testing once with this organism.

Funding for the results presented by Whelton was provided by the US National Science Foundation Engineering RAPID Program award #1424627.  Andrew’s research team is scheduled to deliver presentations at several upcoming events to include theAWWA Water Quality and Technology, Society of Environmental Journalists, and Society for Risk Analysis Conferences and Washington State Community College. These presentations may include additional findings from their ongoing research. [Every presentation his teams have delivered since the incident occurred has contained new data] Dr. Whelton’s team can also be followed on Twitter at @TheWheltonGroup and on their blog. With a background in water system threat identification, contamination/decontamination procedures, preparedness exercises and chemical-material interaction research, his multidisciplinary team and collaborators are available to assist States, Health Departments, and Water Utilities better plan for, respond, and recover from drinking water disasters. Questions about the NACCHO file or related materials should be directed to Dr. Whelton.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The CRUDE MCHM aquatic toxicity information described in the presentation is not part of the WVTAP project funded by the West Virginia Bureau of Health. For information about the WVTAP project please visit the WVTAP website here.

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