CDC Officials to Visit Vermont

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(Host) Federal health experts will be in Vermont on Wednesday to hear concerns about a water additive that some people say makes them sick.

The officials from the U-S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were invited here by the state Health Department.

VPR’s John Dillon has more:

(Dillon) More than a year ago, the Champlain Water District began adding a new disinfectant to the public water system.

The chemical is called chloramine, and it’s supposed to kill bacteria, viruses and other pathogens. It’s used in addition to chlorine treatment.

But some of the district’s customers complained that the chloramine caused skin and eye irritation.

Those complaints persist. So acting Health Commissioner Sharon Moffatt said she decided to ask the Environmental Protection Agency and the U-S Centers for Disease Control for help.

(Moffatt) So we felt that they could bring in a helpful perspective and another whole level of scientific review that would further help inform Vermont and its leadership as we continue to move forward in understanding the use of chloramines as a water disinfectant.

(Dillon) About 68,000 people in Chittenden County are served by the Champlain Water District. The Health Department says about 50 people have reported a variety of symptoms.

Moffatt says the CDC is not at this point conducting a formal health investigation.

(Moffatt) They will be doing fact-finding, including individual interviews with people in their home.

(Dillon) South Burlington resident Ellen Powell plans to tell her story to the CDC. Powell says her eyes starting burning after chloramine was added to the water supply.

(Powell) I’m hoping that we can talk them into seeing that there’s really a problem that they’ve got to investigate. And we also hope – I mean our biggest hope – is that they would say at the end of the meeting: "Oh yeah, you’re right. We’ve got to get the chloramines out of the water because it hasn’t been studied for these effects."

(Dillon) The CDC and EPA will be in Vermont for several days. The federal officials will meet with state health and environmental officials, lawmakers and members of the public.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.

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