What is '4-methylcyclohexane methanol' -- the chemical spilled i - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

What is '4-methylcyclohexane methanol' -- the chemical spilled in the Elk River?

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CHARLESTON (WVVA) - What exactly is the chemical that has left more than 300,000 West Virginians unable to use their tap water?

4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, is a foaming agent used in the coal industry to remove impurities from coal.

During his Friday morning news conference, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre said that he had been advised by scientists that the chemical -- in its most concentrated form -- would require a large quantity to be deadly for a human.

However, the chemical can be harmful. Symptoms of contact can include vomiting, eye or skin irritation, trouble breathing and a burning throat.

The chemical has what has been described as a licorice-like smell.

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