West Virginia

Department of
Health & Human Resources

DHHR to Continue to Seek Funding to Protect the Health of Citizens


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling today announced DHHR and its Bureau for Public Health, in partnership with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, will continue to seek funding from outside sources to address and identify any potential long-term health impacts related to the Elk River chemical spill.
"Since Jan. 9, DHHR has worked with local and national experts to safeguard public health in the nine affected counties" Bowling said. "DHHR continues to assess all available data and awaits the receipt of medical data from the CDC’s Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) study as well as aggregate data being collected by the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health. DHHR and our Bureau for Public Health will partner with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department to reach out to federal health agencies and other entities to secure funding to enable more research on the possible health impacts of MCHM."
The DHHR action is a follow-up to a February letter Governor Earl Ray Tomblin sent to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden requesting federal assistance in ascertaining the long-term impacts of exposure to crude MCHM.
With the passage of Senate Bill 373, DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health has been tasked with engaging the CDC and other federal agencies for the "purpose of creating, organizing and implementing a medical study to assess any long-term health effects resulting from the chemical spill." The Bureau will report its progress to the Legislature by January 1, 2015.
In addition to reaching out for assistance from West Virginia’s congressional delegation, Sec. Bowling and Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director and health officer for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, will take their efforts on the road to meet with federal health agencies to make their case for funding.
Dr. Gupta praised the partnership KCHD has enjoyed with DHHR. "The scientific research Kanawha-Charleston Health Department conducted along with the University of Charleston and other academic partners will help us to understand the physical, psychosocial, economic and communications issues related to the impact of the large-scale chemical contamination of the drinking water and the effects of the spill and the water crisis on the impacted residents." Gupta said this information will provide an impetus for obtaining funding to enable possible research on the health effects of MCHM.

Contact Information

Allison C. Adler ■ DHHR Director of Communications ■ (304) 558-7899 ■ allison.c.adler@wv.gov