Enjoy a glass of water

It is not at all surprising that some samples of water pulled from the Charleston area are found to contain formaldehyde or 4-methylcyclohexylmethanol or any number of other organic and inorganic chemicals. There is no such thing as “zero” concentration.

Modern analytical chemistry techniques are very sensitive. Play some concentration tricks, add in a profit motive, and one could probably find evidence for nearly every single chemical listed in the TSCA registry.

I’m not arguing that Dr. Simonton has done anything untoward. But a level of 32 ppb (parts per billion) of formaldehyde in water is nothing to be alarmed about. That is more than 30 times lower than the EPA’s safe level for drinking water. It’s so low that it might be there all year round. Simonton, at the very least, is being alarmist in his claim that this is a “huge cause for concern” and his statement that he is “not drinking the water.” I’m an analytical chemist with some experience in water analyses. I’d drink the water down in Charleston with no qualms.

Is it worth monitoring the formaldehyde levels for a while to make sure they don’t rise? Sure. Until/unless they do, people should just relax and enjoy a nice glass of ice water.

Daryl Peter Cobranchi