Updated: 01/21/2014 12:17 PM
Created: 01/21/2014 10:56 AM KSTP.com
By: Jennie Olson
A Minnesota company is offering relief to some people affected by a chemical spill in West Virginia.
Zumbrota-based WaterFilters.NET will be packaging and shipping a free refrigerator water filter to impacted customers from its FridgeFilters.com website and online store.
The Jan. 9 spill from a Freedom Industries facility on the banks of the Elk River, less than 2 miles upstream from Charleston's water treatment plant, led to a ban on water use that affected 300,000 people.
According to the health department, 411 patients have been treated at hospitals for symptoms that patients said came from exposure to the chemical, and 20 people have been admitted. Also, more than 1,600 people have called poison control to complain of symptoms.
Karen Bowling, West Virginia's secretary of Health and Human Resources, said the department is trying to sort out how many of those patients were actually sickened by the chemical, and not by other diseases.
A majority of Charleston-area residents have now been told their water is safe to drink and that the concentration of the chemical, which is used to wash coal, is so low that it won't be harmful.
Regardless, anytime there is a "boil water incident," meaning there is proof that local water supplies have been contaminated, the Centers for Disease Control recommends that residents flush their water lines after they have been given the "all clear" signal to make sure there's no residual contamination. Mike Yanke with WaterFilters.NET says the filters they provide help in that process.
Minnesota State Sen. Matt Schmit and State Rep. Steve Drazkowski are expected to visit the distribution center Wednesday to take a tour while the workers package the filters for delivery.
The filters will go to 200-300 customers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.