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Sat Jan 11, 2014, 03:43 AM

What is 'Crude MCHM'? Few know (article about the chemical spilled into the Elk River)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As hundreds of thousands of residents in and around the Kanawha Valley struggle with the "do not use" order from West Virginia American Water Co., one stubborn fact continues to frustrate residents and some local health officials alike: No one seems to be able to say for sure what the coal-cleaning chemical that's been dumped into our water supply might do to us.

Water company officials have identified the chemical -- which leaked from a Freedom Industries tank just upstream from the regional drinking-water intake on the Elk River -- as something called "Crude MCHM." That material is made up almost entirely of another chemical, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol.

<snip>
Some officials also pointed to something called the median lethal dose, or LD50, for the material. It's listed as 825 milligrams per kilogram and means that, when tested on rats, an 825-milligram dose per kilogram of body weight was enough to kill half the rats. Basically, if you do the math, the LD50 shows you someone would have to ingest a lot of this stuff for it to kill them, officials have said.

What officials citing that figure weren't saying is that, depending on which scale you use, 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol would still be classified as either "moderately" or "slightly" toxic.
http://www.wvgazette.com/News/201401100078

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Reply What is 'Crude MCHM'? Few know (article about the chemical spilled into the Elk River) (Original post)
icymist Jan 2014 OP
onestepforward Jan 2014 #1
BobUp Jan 2014 #2
Sienna86 Jan 2014 #3
Live and Learn Jan 2014 #6
spinbaby Jan 2014 #4
icymist Jan 2014 #7
quaker bill Jan 2014 #5
RobertEarl Jan 2014 #8

Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 04:15 AM

1. There isn't much information.

I was wondering about the half-life of this chemical and found this:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-dangerous-is-the-chemical-spilled-in-west-virginia&page=2

-snip-
The chemical has a half-life (meaning half of it will have broken down into other elements in this amount of time) of roughly two weeks in water, a month in soil and, if it gets into the muck at the bottom of the river, 140 days in sediments. Microbes and the slow workings of natural chemistry help with that. Its half-life is less than a day in air, quickly broken down by sunlight.
-snip-


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Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 04:21 AM

2. Methane is bad for living things.

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Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 05:19 AM

3. Let those officials drink a glass of it then.

For once, I would like to see someone on air offer a glass of it to the folks saying it's not that bad.

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Response to Sienna86 (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 07:04 AM

6. A few glasses a day, at least,

for a few years at least, and then maybe I'll consider it "might" be safe to drink for most for the few years. Though, I wouldn't trust what they were actually drinking unless it was confirmed by impartial bystanders (and by that I mean , me).

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Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 06:28 AM

4. The news described it as a "foaming agent"

I asked a relative in the business and he said they mix the stuff with raw coal and then run it through tanks of water where the coal floats and rocks sink. What do they do with the leftovers when they're done floating coal? They put it in settlement ponds.

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Response to spinbaby (Reply #4)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 02:50 PM

7. That makes me wonder what they have been doing with the waste water all these years.

Do we know? Have there been any studies linked to that?

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Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 06:35 AM

5. There is a big difference between LD50 and getting quite sick

Getting quite ill may require only a tiny portion of this dose. That which does not kill, in this case would not necessarily make you stronger.

LD50 is the dose where 50 percent of the rats are killed immediately. LD50 is not the dose where 50% of the rats die a year or two later with liver cancer or various other organ failures. It is the dose that causes immediate death while the chemical is in their bodies at full concentration.

It is also not the dose that causes blindness or some other critical lifelong disability...

They are correct, as a poison, an LD50 of 825 mg/kg is not particularly potent as there are many chemicals that effectively kill at far lower doses. This does not mean that you want to be drinking the stuff.

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Response to icymist (Original post)

Sat Jan 11, 2014, 03:01 PM

8. Don't Panic, says Governor Tomblin

Cleaning chemical spill

By PAMELA PRITT

http://www.bdtonline.com/local/x1956155991/Cleaning-chemical-spill

“Don’t panic,” Tomblin said. “Help is on the way."

Potable water is on its way from other areas in West Virginia, and from other states, as well, the governor noted.


Freedom issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

“Since the discovery of the leak, safety for residents in Kanawha and surrounding counties has been Freedom Industries’ first priority. We have been working with local and federal regulatory, safety and environmental entities, including the DEP, Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and Homeland Security, and are following all necessary steps to fix the issue. Our team has been working around the clock since the discovery to contain the leak to prevent further contamination.”


http://www.bdtonline.com/local/x1956155991/Cleaning-chemical-spill

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Those damn environmentalists.... if they had done their jobs, this chemical plant would have been far away from any river. I say we fire all of them. Give them a taste of Freedom!

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