'Freaked Out' Scientist Finds Formaldehyde in W. Virginia Water

He tells lawmakers that he's not drinking it
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 29, 2014 1:53 PM CST
Scientists Find Formaldehyde in 'Safe' W. Va. Water
Al Jones of the West Virginia department of General Services tests the water as he flushes the faucet and opens a rest room on the first floor of the State Capitol in Charleston, W.Va., Jan. 13, 2014.   (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Scientists have found trace amounts of formaldehyde in water from Charleston, West Virginia, weeks after a huge chemical spill. After two chemicals from Freedom Industries leaked into the Elk River around Jan. 9, about 300,000 local residents were quickly told not to drink the water running through their pipes. It has since been deemed safe. Dr. Scott Simonton, who led the team that found the formaldehyde, says it's probably a byproduct of a chemical that leaked, the Charleston Daily Mail reports. He says he's still not drinking or cooking with the water, the Charleston Gazette reports.

"What we know scares us, and we know there's a lot more we don't know," Simonton told lawmakers today, noting that formaldehyde is not safe to drink or breathe. "Frankly, the formaldehyde has me, personally, a little freaked out." The tainted sample came from a restaurant in downtown Charleston, the first area "cleared" by the water company and told it could start flushing its pipes on Jan. 13. Simonton doesn't think the flushing period was long enough, and that the chemical is still sticking to pipes. He also noted, "I can guarantee you that the citizens of this valley are at least in some instances breathing formaldehyde," likely while showering. (More formaldehyde stories.)

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