In The Long Run We Are All Dead

As a conservative paradise, West Virginia is working hard to help its citizens economize. The state’s latest strategy: helping citizens self-embalm to save on funeral costs.

A West Virginia state official told a legislative panel on Wednesday that he “can guarantee” residents are breathing in formaldehyde, a known carcinogen, nearly three weeks after a massive chemical spill contaminated the water supply for more than 300,000 residents.

Scott Simonton, a Marshall University environmental scientist and member of the state Environmental Quality Board, told the panel that he had found formaldehyde in local water samples and was alarmed by the lack of information regarding the lingering impacts of the spill on public health, the Charleston Gazette reported.

“It’s frightening, it really is frightening,” Simonton said. “What we know scares us, and we know there’s a lot more we don’t know.”

On January 9, Freedom Industries reported a leak of crude MCHM, a mixture of chemicals used in the coal production process, from its storage facility on the Elk River and into the water supply for 16 percent of the state’s population. Simonton said the crude MCHM can be broken down into formaldehyde, which causes cancer, and inhaled while people are showering.

I went to YouTube and typed in “embalming music” in a spirit of casual inquiry, thinking I might find a song or two. Oy. When the first piece is a song called “Embalming Table Sodomy” by a band called “Necrosadist,” you know you’re in a scary place.

Here are the Editors, performing “Formaldehyde.”

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