CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Is the water supply safe?
Answers from local, state and national health officials continue to vary.
Dr. Rahul Gupta, head of the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department, and Dr. Letitia Tierney, state health officer and commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health, appeared Wednesday morning before a joint legislative committee investigating the Elk River chemical spill.
Later in the day, Dr. Tanja Popovic, acting director of the National Center for Environmental Health within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, spoke at a press conference.
After the press conference, Tierney reiterated her position that she has provided as much accurate information as she can when it becomes available.
"If I had gone into that room, on the first day, and they had told me to lie, to cover something up, I would have quit," Tierney said, referencing officials with the administration of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
"I don't need this job, I quit a better-paying job to take it. I can make more money in the private sector, I don't need it."
During the committee meeting, Gupta said there was an obvious taste to the water when he drank it. His wife, who is also a physician, wasn't pleased when she found out he was using it, he said.
Tierney — who was left little time to speak during the committee hearing — said she is drinking the water, bathing in it and otherwise using it. Tomblin said the same at a press conference later in the day.
"At the end of the day, people are going to believe what their physician is saying over what the administration is saying," Gupta told lawmakers.
Popovic, who came to Charleston for the day, said during the press conference she understands the basic question West Virginians want answered.
"Is your water safe? What I can say is with all the scientific evidence that we have, and with everything that numerous people have worked on so far, I can say that you can use your water however you like," she said.
"You can drink it. You can bathe in it. You can use it how you like."
Tomblin said "science suggests the water is safe," but that the state can't say it's safe with 100 percent certainty.
After the press conference, Popovic said the CDC doesn't like to use the word "safe," and hedged on whether that means pregnant women can now drink the water.
"What we want them to do is we want them empowered to feel that they can follow their instincts and do what they feel is good for them," Popovic said.
The CDC issued an advisory almost a week after the spill telling pregnant women not to drink water that has any level of MCHM. CDC and state officials have said it was made "out of an abundance of caution."
During the hearing, Gupta said the warning "obviously was a little late."