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National Library of Medicine Technical BulletinNational Library of Medicine Technical Bulletin

Chemical Information and the West Virginia Elk River Chemical Release

Chemical Information and the West Virginia Elk River Chemical Release. NLM Tech Bull. 2014 Jan-Feb;(396):b5.

2014 January 24 [posted]

[Editor's Note: This is a reprint of an announcement published on DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB, a Listserv for librarians, information specialists and others interested in disaster information outreach to their communities and responding to information needs for all-hazards preparedness, response and recovery. This forum is provided by the Disaster Information Management Research Center, U.S. National Library of Medicine. To subscribe the DISASTR-OUTREACH-LIB Listserv see http://sis.nlm.nih.gov/dimrc/dimrclistserv.html.]

You may be aware from multiple news sources that little information was available about 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol at the time of the spill in West Virginia's Elk River earlier this month. Since the spill, government and private sector scientists have contributed to collecting and verifying information about the chemical. As a result, there is now a page on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Web site about the chemical and the methodology used by CDC to develop its recommendations.

There is also a new record in the NLM Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB) for the chemical 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol, which has a Chemical Abstracts Service registry number (CASRN) of 34885-03-5. Other terms for the spilled substance are "MCHM" or "crude MCHM" or "4-Methylcyclohexane methanol."

Please note that in some social media and early news reports, the chemical was MISIDENTIFIED as Methylcyclohexanol (CASRN: 25639-42-3). This is NOT the correct chemical.

In chemical incidents, it is unusual for little online information to be available about a substance. Chemicals can often be readily identified using online resources such as TOXNET and WISER. In the absence of published information, local and state officials request consultation with local, state, federal and industry experts. Typically, following such an incident there is immediate, ongoing, extensive consultation and communication among responders and experts to determine appropriate actions.

When planning for providing health information following chemical incidents, it is critical for institutions and government agencies to know who to contact in uncommon situations as well as knowing the authoritative published sources of chemical information.

Sources

NLM Technical Bulletin National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health