The Centers for Disease Control has issued an advisory for West Virginian tap water stating that it is safe to drink so long as the levels of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol in the water are sufficiently diluted. The statement begs a lot of questions starting with how the average person is supposed to determine what "sufficiently diluted" levels render the water safe. Bear in mind that it is not being reported that CDC officials are publicly drinking the water in a show of confidence.
4-methylcyclohexane methanol is a substance used to clean coal and it has leaked into the water supply. Initially, some residents were told it was okay to drink the water, but now local health officials clarified that advisory does not apply to pregnant women. Really? Well, what makes the "safe" for the average person suddenly become "unsafe" for pregnant women? The answer lies in the fact that the health issues regarding human consumption of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol are largely unknown.
Is anybody's confidence increasing as a result of these conflicting messages? Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director for the CDC, said people may turn to alternative water sources just to be on the safe side if they are concerned about the water. Again, it is telling that Dr. Frieden is not drinking the water.