Thursday, May 24, 2012

Formaldehyde Update: It Was Hexamethylenetetramine in the River Water

so the government ministries (Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of the Environment) say.

Somewhere along the Tone River in Saitama Prefecture or Gunma Prefecture, 0.6 to 4 tonnes of hexamethylenetetramine had been dumped, and it reacted with the chlorine used for the sampling tests at the water purification plants, resulting in formaldehyde.

The popular speculation on the net was that some substance was being irradiated by radioactive materials in the water (plutonium, cesium, strontium were the popular candidates) and turning into formaldehyde. (For more, see my previous post.) I think it is still popular among many people, because "the government lies" as far as they are concerned.

From NHK News (5/24/2012):


Concerning the detection of formaldehyde in drinking water from the Tone River and its tributaries exceeding the national safety limit, it has been determined that a chemical substance called "hexamethylenetetramine" that was discharged into the river caused the problem.


There are 5 factories that use this substance in Saitama and Gunma Prefectures. The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of the Environment have requested the prefectural governments to conduct on-site investigation as early as May 25.


Formaldehyde exceeding the national safety standard was found from the drinking water at the water purification plants in Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo, and Gunma along the Tone River system. The water supply was temporarily cut off, affecting many residents in municipalities that receive water from these plants.


Formaldehyde was not detected from the river water itself. The Ministry of Health concluded that some substance in the water reacted with chlorine at the purification plants, generating formaldehyde, and proceeded to identify the substance.


The chemical substance called "hexamethylenetetramine" was detected from the water samples taken at the water purification plants along the river system, and when chlorine was added to the water samples formaldehyde was formed.


The Ministry of Health concluded that hexamethylenetetramine was the cause.


Also, judging from the concentration, the total amount of hexamethylenetetramine discharged into the Tone River system is estimated to be between 0.6 to 4 tonnes.


There are factories that use this substance more than 1 tonne per year, with 2 in Saitama and 3 in Gunma. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment have requested the prefectural governments to conduct on-site investigation as early as May 25.


Chibaguy said...

It would be nice if they could actually get to the root cause which they did not on TV this morning.

Anonymous said...

The culprit, should it be found, probably only has to contend with a small fine or just a slap on the wrist for this. And of course a public apology.

Never mind that they should have probably noticed themselves that they discharged 1-4 tonnes of something they shouldn't but decided not to report it because - you're guessed it - it is not against the law or expected to do any damage to humans. Lalala

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