Study: spilled W.Va. chemical smells in low dose

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A taxpayer-funded, independent research group says the chemical that spilled into 300,000 West Virginians' water can be smelled in water well below its safe drinking level.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based researcher Michael McGuire found that a panel of smell testers could detect crude MCHM at an "extraordinarily low concentration." State officials originally said the chemical could be smelled at 1 part per billion. McGuire's group study found the smell threshold was 0.15 parts per billion.

Federal health officials said the water is safe to drink below 1 part per million, a level it took up to 10 days to achieve after the Jan. 9 spill.

The research is part of a $762,000 state project evaluating safe levels for the chemical in drinking water. It also includes sampling in people's homes.

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