Wright State says toxic substance found in campus water

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Credit: JIM NOELKER

Credit: JIM NOELKER

Wright State has issued a warning for anyone on campus to not use the water after a test found levels of ethylene glycol contamination.

The warning comes just eight days after the university lifted a previous water warning from the same incident, citing samples that came back negative from the lab for any contamination.

“At the time of the initial warning, the university, anticipating several days of potential processing time for the lab results, sent in a second set of water samples not long after the first in case the first came back positive,” said Seth Bauguess, a spokesman for Wright State. “The first samples came back negative for contaminant and the water warning was lifted. Inexplicably, the second samples came back positive yesterday.”

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Wright State issued a warning on June 9 for the first time, telling students still on-campus not to use the water, after the university found a contractor punctured a glycol pipe.

That punctured pipe was located and isolated the same day, within hours, according to the university.

The repair effort led to a glycol contamination and resulted in the water warning. The cross-connection was isolated to Biological Sciences and Health Sciences, but the entire water system was placed under a water warning out of caution.

Ethylene glycol has many uses, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including as antifreeze in cooling and heating systems, and in hydraulic brake fluids. Ingesting large quantities of ethylene glycol may cause vomiting, drowsiness, coma, respiratory failure, convulsions, metabolic changes, followed by cardiopulmonary effects and later renal damage, the U.S. EPA says.

The university lifted the water warning on June 22 after a first set of samples from the incident came back from the lab negative for any contamination. However, the university sent two sets of samples in days apart, and the second set of samples came back on Wednesday positive for glycol contamination.

It is not clear why the second samples came back positive while the first samples came back negative. The water warning is in place until Wright State can confirm new samples are negative for the contaminant.

For now, anyone on campus should not use the water for anything other than to flush toilets.