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Breaking: New Water Warning Issued, Toxic Substance Found in WSU Water


Wright State University (WSU) issued a new water warning after finding toxic levels of ethylene glycol in the campus water system. 

Toxic substance found in water

Samples taken from six different locations, including the Student Union and Hamilton Hall, contain ethylene glycol. 

This toxic substance can have damaging health effects, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 20 milligrams per liter (mg/L) for one day or 6 mg/L for 10 days does not cause adverse health effects.  One sample collected from WSU’s campus contained 67 mg/L of ethylene glycol, over four times the safe amount. 

Water on campus is not to be used for any purpose besides flushing toilets. According to the communication bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes and food preparation. Bottled water can be freely obtained at Customer Care in 065 Allyn Hall for all of Wright State’s Public Water System Customers and Guests.

In addition to issuing the warning, campus administrators shut down the Campus Recreation’s pool, located in the student union. It will most likely reopen when the water advisory is resolved. 

HVAC construction accident

This contamination is the result of a construction accident that occurred in mid-June. Maintenance crews working on the HVAC air system accidentally punctured an underground pipe containing the toxic chemical glycol according to WSU’s Environmental Health and Safety Board. 

This pipe, not directly connected to the water system, leaked into a connector pipe that leads into the main water system. This leak caused contamination concerns, triggering a water advisory. 

It was also reported that the contractors who punctured the pipe did not have the proper permits, and were not supposed to dig around this specific pipe. 

The Board initially reported that testing of the water system did not contain any harmful substances, and the original water warning was lifted June 22. According to WSU Head of Communications Seth Bauguess, the second sample came back positive yesterday causing the warning to be reinstated.

Prevention

In addition to the water warning, the Board plans to empty ice machines and drain water heaters. Testing and investigating other possible spots of contamination will continue. 

To prevent another construction accident, like the one that punctured the pipe, campus officials reported that they would make sure all contractors follow campus policies and obtain the proper permits. 

The Wright State Guardian reached out to the director of Environmental Health and Safety for additional information regarding the current advisory and has received no response. 

Building Location Sample Date Result Unit 
Hamilton Hall Laundry Room 06/15/2021 17:35 13000 ug/L 
Health Sciences  Room 033 06/15/2021 15:40 26700 ug/L 
Biological Sciences II Room 247 06/15/2021 16:12 5040 ug/L 
Biological Sciences II 2nd Floor Restroom 06/15/2021 16:08 6010 ug/L 
Student Union – East Restroom by Wright-Patt Credit Union 06/16/2021 10:55 67000 ug/L 
NEC Room 170 06/15/2021 15:48 8310 ug/L 

Jamie Naylor

Contributing Writer

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