HONOLULU (KHON2) — Fuel can enter the body in three ways: ingestion, inhalation and skin absorption. The tricky part is there is no test for petroleum poisoning.
It is a problem that Kelly Morris is all too familiar with.
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Morris is a resident of Kapilina Beach Homes, an off-base housing complex for both military and civilians. Her daughter, Hailey, started suffering from muscle spasms on Thursday, Dec. 2, but emergency room doctors could not help.
“And [the doctor’s] like, ‘Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to test this, all we can do to treat her with like IV fluids,’ and they sent her home, and that was it.”Kelly Morris, Kapilina Beach Homes resident
Morris switched to bottled water after hearing that the Navy’s drinking water was contaminated. Hailey’s symptoms eased for a while and their family dogs were thankful as well.
“And every time one of my dogs drank the water, he would either gag or actually throw up,” Morris said. “Since we switched them to the bottled water, they drink water all day long and neither one of them have thrown up any of the water now.”
The problems did not end there. Morris took her chances with the tap water after weeks without a warm face wash.
“So I used warm water from the tap and washed my face, and I would say within 20 minutes, all of a sudden I felt like my face was hot, and I went and looked in the mirror and noticed my one eye was swollen and red and then the rash, just all over.”Kelly Morris, Kapilina Beach Homes resident
Even though they are now drinking from bottles, Hailey’s spasms returned on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
“So he’s running every test he can think of,” Morris said. “In the meantime, he put my daughter on muscle relaxers to see if that would help. She actually just sent me a video from work, her muscles are twitching more now. It’s to the point where she really can’t even drive.”
Dr. Jim Barahal, medical director of Straub Doctors on Call, said symptoms of fuel poisoning are short-term and self-limiting — meaning they will stop if the contaminant is not present in your system.
“The best advice that we can give you is to watch for symptoms and to contact your doctor, and the best evaluation is the clinical evaluation, to be seen,” Dr. Barahal said.
Kapilina Beach Homes management released the following statement on Thursday, Dec. 16:
“Kapilina Beach Homes Management has been in close communication with federal, state and county officials to get assurance that our community’s water supply is safe. The U.S. Navy has told us that all water to Kapilina Beach Homes originates from the north distribution line and from the Waiawa well, which is located northwest of Pearl City. According to the Navy, these sources have been tested multiple times and the results have met the Hawaii Department of Health drinking water standards.
“As we have informed our residents at Kapilina Beach Homes, we are seeking clarification from the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) as to when they will recommend that our community’s regular water use may resume and look forward to reporting the outcome of this correspondence.
“In the meantime, we have contacted lawmakers and local officials about meeting directly with the residents of our community through a town hall meeting. We hope to schedule this meeting as soon as possible based on the availability of these officials to attend.”Kapilina Beach Homes management
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The DOH continues to advise all Navy water system users to avoid using the water for drinking, cooking or oral hygiene. If the water has a fuel-like odor, avoid using it for bathing, dishwashing or laundry. This recommendation applies to users of the Navy’s JBPHH water system, which includes the Aliamanu Military Reservation, Red Hill and Nimitz Elementary Schools and military housing.