Thursday, May 19, 2016 — By David Gutman

Three West Virginia communities are changing their water sources after the federal Environmental Protection Agency released Thursday a new national standard for C8, a chemical that for years contaminated the drinking water of Wood County communities and is linked to cancer, thyroid disease and dangerously high blood pressure in pregnant women.

The EPA’s move caused immediate action, as West Virginia regulators on Thursday advised Vienna residents not to drink or cook with their water, based on test results over the past couple of years.

“The Bureau for Public Health is working with the town of Vienna to implement appropriate precautions, which will include a ‘Do Not Drink’ advisory until additional testing and evaluation takes place,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health. “The Department of Health and Human Resources and the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety will assist those affected by the EPA’s advisory, and the state will assist in securing installation of new filters.

“Two other public water systems in West Virginia, located in Parkersburg and Martinsburg, were also affected by the new EPA thresholds. They have taken immediate action by using additional water sources to provide water.”

All three cities got their water through groundwater sources, or wells, said Walt Ivey, an environmental health official with the DHHR.

Parkersburg and Martinsburg both had additional wells with lower levels of contamination, so they were able to turn off the chemically contaminated sources and residents should see no changes in their water service, Ivey said.

The EPA’s health advisory set a level of 70 parts per trillion of C8 in drinking water, saying chemical levels below that standard are “not expected to result in adverse health effects over a lifetime of exposure.”