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Pregnant women water: Don't drink 'licorice' water, warning to avoid chemical

A pregnant women water scare remains in place this week, despite officials in West Virginia lifting the ban on drinking tap water for a majority of people within the region of the recent chemical spill. Said to smell like licorice and possessing harmful side effects, the water is still something state authorities say pregnant women need to avoid, as contamination residue is still possible. The Scientific American discusses more on this warning this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014.

Pregnant women water: Don't drink 'licorice' water, warning to avoid chemical
Wikimedia Commons, Photo File

The pregnant women water warning applies to all expectant females within areas of West Virginia still affected by dangerous chemical spill. Until the chemical is totally flushed from all pipes, officials remind those most susceptible to still steer clear. A full week following the shocking contamination of crude MCHM into the Elk River, over 300,000 people were advised by health authorities to refrain from drinking, cooking, or even washing with tap water.

West Virginia officials have now been able to permit approximately 200,000 of those individuals to drink from their water again once frequent tests confirmed that contamination levels of the chemical had fallen once again below the 1 part per million safety standard amount, put into place Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, notes the West Virginia American Water Board, pregnant women need to keep using fresh water bottles for now, maintaining “an abundance of caution until it is confirmed that all traces of the chemical [are] completely undetectable.”

As stated in the press release concerning this pregnant women water advisory, it is unknown whether females with child are more susceptible to succumbing to the licorice-smelling water’s harmful effects or not, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

“The company said the CDC had advised there is still a ‘"limited availability of data"’ on whether pregnant woman are more susceptible and advised that state water officials ‘"consider an alternative drinking water source for pregnant women until the chemical is at non-detectable levels in the water distribution system."’

Roughly 7,500 gallons of crude MCHM, scientifically known as 5-methylcyclohexane methanol, had leaked into the Elk River back on Jan. 9, as mentioned by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Only flushing toilets was allowed in public homes after the storage tank leak was discovered; all other forms of water usage (drinking, cooking, bathing) were strictly limited for fear of contamination.

“Water tainted by crude MCHM smells faintly of licorice. Contact with the water can cause nausea, vomiting, dizziness, diarrhea, rashes and reddened skin.”

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