WVAW Chemical Spill Knocks Resident Confidence, Survey Shows

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10th July 2014 13:51 - Chemicals

A survey with 171 West Virginian households has shown that only just over one third of West Virginia American Water (WVAW) users believe the water disseminated is safe since the state suffered chemical contamination on January 9.

The study – Community Assess for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) – showed that before the chemical spill around five sixths (85%) believed the water they consumed was safe, with one tenth not believing it was safe and 4% stating they were unsure.

However, post-contamination just 36% think WVAW is safe, with over half (52%) disagreeing and 13% uncertain.

More than one fifth (23%) reported suffering health problems related to the chemical spill – more than a tenth of these were aged under 18. The most common symptoms incurred were: rashes; skin irritation or itching; respiratory illnesses or a cough; diarrhoea and nausea.

Four fifths of those questioned said they heard about the spill on the day of the incident, with 12.9% in the know the following day (January 10) and 2% two days later (January 11).

Over half (54%) of the survey’s respondents first received information of the chemical spill on the television, with face-to-face talking (13.5%), phone calls (16%), text messages (5%) and social media (2.4%) the subsequent sources of news.

After they initially heard of the incident, television (85%), word of mouth (50.3%) and newspapers (47.4%) were the most popular methods to keep informed.

In terms of perceived reliability, once again, television came out on top (56%). The remaining sources were some way behind:

  • Internet (not WVAW website) – 9%
  • Word of mouth – 6%
  • Social media – 6%
  • WVAW website – 5%
  • Newspapers – 5%
  • Radio – 0.6%

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