Health officials in West Virginia are advising pregnant women to refrain from drinking tap water until further notice. The advisory was issued on Wednesday night, citing a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On January 9 this year, over 7,500 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol leaked from a storage tank owned by Freedom Industries. A mile downstream Freedom Industries is the West Virginia American Water plant, the state's largest water plant. The Northern Kentucky Water District and the Greater Cincinnati Water Works, just downstream from the spill, were also put to risk. Both water plants have recently shut their intakes as a matter of precaution.
4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol or MCHM, is classified as an alcohol and is used to clean coal. According to the CDC, the toxic water can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and rashes.
Women are advised to drink bottled water until there are no longer detectable levels of MCHM in the water system.
"Due to limited availability of data, and out of an abundance of caution, you may wish to consider an alternative drinking water source for pregnant women until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system," said CFC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.