CHARLESTON (AP) — Health officials thought their safe level for drinking a chemical spilled into the water supply would have protected West Virginians showering or washing hands.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official says drinking contaminated water was the main method of exposure associated with the most significant health effects.
So, officials thought water safe to drink would be safe for other exposures, like bathing and breathing vapors in the shower.
The January spill sullied tap water for 300,000 people.
CDC director Thomas Frieden explains the rationale in a Tuesday letter to Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito. Capito had asked about breathing and skin issues.
In subsequent emergency room visits, more than half of patients reported issues after skin contact, and 15 percent after breathing.
Overall, symptoms ranged from rashes to vomiting.