Are Water Filters Effective Against the Chemical in the West Virginia Water Supply?


Officials in West Virginia claim that the water in parts of the state is now safe after a chemical spill left 300,000 people without water, but local residents aren’t so sure.  A reader graciously provided his eyewitness assessment and opinion of the situation:

I have first hand knowledge this water is not safe. For one, it smells very strongly of licorice. It has an off color; a blue hue. I will never drink it again.

I felt it was probably ok to bathe in but that was a mistake too. After flushing my system per the water companies specs, I took a shower. My eyes burned for 4 hours post shower. Many other posts on facebook and twitter have complained of the same ailment along with rashes.

The president of the water company didn’t answer the question when asked if he was drinking the water he was proclaiming safe for the masses and the head of the local head of the health dept. replied he was still in a red zone when asked the same question. Their non-answers speak volumes. Just thankful we rent so we don’t have a house to sell when we move.

I heard from a chemical engineer friend that the smell would not dissipate for many weeks. He likened it to getting gasoline on your hands and not being able to wash the smell off. We are not drinking nor using it for anything but flushing the toilet. They also have changed their tune and are now saying pregnant and nursing mothers should continue to utilize bottled water. If it’s unsafe for them, how is it safe for the rest?

Many people have asked whether or not a water filtration system will remove the toxic chemical, 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol,  from municipal water, rendering it safe. It’s a difficult question to answer, because this chemical does not normally contaminate drinking water.

Laura Newton, The Water Filter Lady, generously passed on the following statement from Berkey headquarters  regarding water filtration in this particular situation. The company answered very honestly:

The chemical that was leaked in West Virginia is an organic chemical. This is a relatively unknown chemical that is not on the EPA’s organic chemical list to test for and for this reason we have not specifically tested this organic chemical compound, therefore we cannot say yes or no.

The organic compounds that we have tested for show the lowest removal rate was 86% removal, but the majority tested greater than 99% removal.

Without specific testing we cannot make any claim on this specific chemical, but the data suggest that we would likely be very efficient at removing the chemical, given that it is an organic chemical/compound.

New Millennium(Berkey) ALWAYS recommends that you use the cleanest source of water available; however we understand that during emergencies a clean source of water may not be available.

This is one of those situations where you can’t simply listen to “officials”.  You have to use common sense and make your own assessments.  You must keep in mind that toxins can sometimes stay in the body for a long time, and it’s difficult to know the repercussions that could occur in the future. Personally, I’d be hesitant to use this water at all, but if I had no option, I would absolutely be sure to filter it with my Berkey.  If I did opt to filter the water, I’d replace the filters promptly as well.

I can’t express enough how vital it is to use this as a cautionary tale. Not only should you have water stored for emergencies such as this, you should also have filtration systems and back-up sources of water in the event that a future situation continued for an extended period of time.

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Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

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15 Comments  to  Are Water Filters Effective Against the Chemical in the West Virginia Water Supply?

  1. David says:

    The company responsible for the chemical leak, Freedom Industries, has filed for bankruptcy.

    This is no surprise to the people of West Virginia. That’s the way it works here. The owners of this company will form a new corporation which will buy up the assets of the bankrupt company. No money will change hands and it will be business as usual.

    Many people are blaming this on republicans but most of those are ignorant outsiders. The West Virginia statehouse has been under control of the democrat party for over 80 years. We have have 5 congressmen. Senator Joe Manchin (D), Senator Jay Rockefeller (D), Representative Nick Rahall (D), Representative Shelly Moore Capito (R), and Representative David McKinley (R). Our governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, the U.S. Senate and the Presidency are all in control of the democrat party. With so many democrats, the party of the environment, in charge, how did this happen on their watch?

    Simple, it is not a matter of whether they have a (D) or an (R) after their name. The people in charge right now do not care about me, the people of West Virginia or you. They care about getting power and keeping power. They cater to corporations who don’t care about people. We have been sold to the highest bidder.

    What are the people here to do? The coal miners, the chemical workers, the coal truck drivers are losing their jobs and they have families, bills and mortgages. How do you sell a house when there are no jobs? What is taking place is a sub-culture of drugs and government benefits. Pillbillies ride the Oxy-contin express to pill mills in other states and bring back their prescriptions. Those pills are then sold to make up the difference in the paycheck from the quik-mart and the one they used to get in the coal mine. Or, they get diagnosed as mentally ill and get the “crazy check” as it’s known around here. The local economy is based off the illicit sale of prescription drugs and government cheese.

    Many people want to work. I spoke to a coal miner just the other day and he said he would love to work somewhere else but there is no other option. Work in the mines, make enough to put food on the table, clothes on their back and a roof over their head, or go to work in retail or food service. Sure we could leave but people here don’t put their parents in a home. My parents took care of their parents when they got older. I will take care of my parents and in-laws when the time comes. I am leaving Charleston though. I am lucky my parents do not live in this area. My wife and I both have post secondary education and we both struggle to find quality work.

    Even if a person had the means to leave, where would they go? Most reports I read say unemployment is getting worse, everywhere. Lots of bubble economies in housing, tech, even money. This area was dying and this may be the fatal blow. Drive through Eastern KY, Southern West Virginia and the depths of poverty will astound you. It’s just as bad here as it is in Detroit. The crash isn’t going to be a sudden colossus, it’s here and we are living it.

    • Getagrippeople says:

      For ALL of you in West Virginia, you are heroes in my book…especially you David, for telling it like it is. For anyone not living there and going through the experience, we sit on the outside looking in and speculating about what we would do in that grave situation. We don’t really know, because we aren’t sitting on the front lines as you and so many others are.
      My heart breaks for you all, and I realize words are of little consolation, but its all I have to give…recognition.
      You are absolutely correct in saying ”The crash isn’t going to be a sudden colossus,” as for many, it has been going on, in many different forms over the last 6 years.
      Strength and blessings to all of you there.

    • PanarchistamericanHelot says:

      David, your comparison to Detroit seems a bit, off.

      Consider this, from what I understand, Detroit is booming:

      “People are coming here to be a part of the resurgence of entrepreneurial and community ventures that are at the core of this city’s return to prominence.” …

      Perhaps there’s something there the people out that way could find of use, RE: “What are the people here to do?”?

      Just a thought.

    • roguelibertarian says:

      David, such a well written post. Apathy is our best remaining nonviolent weapon. Stop voting for them…all of them. Stop participating in their systems of control. Opt out. Without our participation it will collapse. Prepare for that collapse. Then be ready to be the leader that your post so clearly shows you are. Checkout Jack will help you find your path.

  2. David says:

    For all the people saying we asked for this, take your crazy and sell it somewhere else.

    The people of West Virginia want to drink clean water, breathe clean air and have a job that pays enough to put food on the table, clothes on their backs and a roof over their head. Maybe buy a new truck and take a trip to Myrtle Beach 1 week a year and let their toes feel the water on the hillbilly riviera. I guess until that day comes we will cling to our guns and our Bibles.

    • G! says:

      “For all the people saying we asked for this, take your crazy and sell it somewhere else.”

      It boggles my mind that people could be so unsympathetic. In truth, “There by the Grace of God, go I.” We are in such unprecedented times. We did not ask for it; Our opinions were not wanted, either. It is sickening that the company filed for bankruptcy.

      The day is already here that we must cling to our Bibles. I hope we do not need to cling to our guns as well.

  3. Zeolyte says:

    You need a really good one! Like one that is as powerful as a reverse osmosis filter with added minerals that absorb heavy metals and radiation like a zeolyte type filter. I’d read about some of the methods you can use to get bad chemicals out of your drinking water safely. Water Purification Methods.

  4. Mat h Physics says:

    While zeolyte is a great molecular sieve, it’s not an RO system. Reverse Osmosis will take out all but the smallest lithium salts, but these systems are so sensitive “city water” standards are required for input.
    Alumino Silicate, aka zeolyte, was used at Chernobyl, Fukushima, and formed synthetically at ground zero to absorb alpha radiation. Look at the chemical compounds of GRANITE, which is mainly Silicon Oxide and Aluminum Oxide. When super heated, the oxygen burns off as they bind.

    PS Aluminum in free space can not penetrate structural steel at subsonic speed, PERIOD

  5. David says:

    Thank you all for the kind and encouraging words. We will make it through and come out on the other side.

    • Daisy Luther says:

      How’s it going, David? Any improvement in the situation?

      • David says:

        No improvement. Water still smells strongly of licorice as of an hour ago so still not using it for anything but the toilet. Bottled water for drinking, bathing, teeth brushing and cooking. My parents and in-laws are both out of the affected area and both are on well water so I made the trip and re filled the jugs I used last week. Plus some extra. We were not in danger of running out just felt we might as well replenish what we had used while we had the chance.

      • David says:

        Also, government agencies are dismissing adverse reactions as no worse than sunburns.

  6. David says:

    Surprise, Surprise!

    Data released earlier today shows an additional chemical was also released into the water supply. “PPH” causes red rashes and eye burning. 7 different products contain the acronym PPH but we are not told which one it is.

  7. David says:

    Exactly what I predicted. Two new companies were formed on the day of the bankruptcy filing and tried to become the primary lien holders so when the company could not pay it’s creditors they would get to assume the assets.

    Not a done deal yet but it is West Virginia.

  8. Chris Filter says:

    I hope everything will be okay soon

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