CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A federal health official said Wednesday that West Virginians can now use tap water however they choose after last month's chemical spill contaminated it for days. Still, public skepticism remains about its safety, and some local doctors are advising some of their patients not to ingest it.
The Jan. 9 spill of a coal-cleaning chemical at Freedom Industries in Charleston spurred a water-use ban for 300,000 people for up to 10 days. After some officials cleared thousands to use water again, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised pregnant women to consider a different water source.
However, on Wednesday, the CDC reaffirmed its stance on the water's safety.
"You can drink it. You can bathe in it," said Dr. Tanja Popovic, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. "You can use it how you like."
Still, many restaurants refuse to cook with it. And some local doctors say certain patients, such as children under 3 and people with compromised immune systems, should not drink it, said Dr. Rahul Gupta, health officer for Kanawha and Putnam counties.