The West Virginia chemical spill impacted much of the state and many medical providers there, including the West Virginia Poison Center (WVPC) (C&EN, Jan. 20, page 7). It was one of several agencies involved in helping state residents during a week of high concern for 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol that leaked into the Elk River.
Kudos to the medical and clinical toxicologists and staff for their important work during this disaster. They helped assess the human toxicity potential and served the state and the several counties affected by taking calls from the public and medical providers and guiding them through what needed to be done.
Health care facilities were required to contact the poison center as part of this disaster so that accurate tallies of victims could be accounted for in real time and appropriate medical advice given.
The partnership between the West Virginia state health department and WVPC was fantastic. In addition, WVPC provided situation reports to all poison centers in the country to keep us apprised. This helped other victims who traveled out of state during this time and ended up calling their own regional poison centers for advice. I also agree that material safety data sheets need much better toxicity information, making them as relevant as possible to human exposure, and utilizing medical toxicologists in the process.
John G. Benitez
Tennessee Poison Center