Illness Can’t be Directly Tied to West Virginia Chemical Spill

By JONATHAN MATTISE | April 25, 2014

Health officials say they can’t definitively prove hundreds of West Virginians experienced health effects from contact with a chemical spilled into the water supply.

Symptoms in 369 medical records were consistent with studies on spilled crude MCHM. But officials said colds, flus and viruses could also have caused the ailments. Only 45 records were ruled out because of another diagnosis.

Federal toxic substance experts and the state Bureau for Public Health on Wednesday released the analysis of emergency room visits for two weeks following a Jan. 9 spill.

The symptoms – including nausea, vomiting, rashes and sore throats – mostly needed no treatment. Some required IVs and medication for itching or nausea.

More than half of patients said their skin was exposed, most through bathing, showering or hand washing.

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