Updated Tue, Mar 18, 2014 9:35 am
A taxpayer-funded, independent research group says West Virginians can smell a chemical that spilled into their water even at low concentrations deemed safe to drink.
California-based researcher Michael McGuire found a panel of smell testers could detect crude MCHM at an "extraordinarily low concentration." State officials said the chemical could be smelled at 1 part per billion. McGuire's study found the smell threshold was 0.15 parts per billion.
Federal health officials said the water is safe to drink below 1 part per million, or 1,000 parts per billion. It took four to 10 days to achieve that level after the Jan. 9 spill contaminated 300,000 people's water.
The research is part of a $762,000 state project evaluating the chemical's safe level in drinking water. It includes sampling in people's homes.