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Chemical contaminated drinking water at Springs medical center

By Lindsay Watts, Weekend GMC Anchor/Target 13 Investigator , l.watts@krdo.com
Published On: Nov 07 2012 06:03:51 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 08 2012 05:26:09 PM CST
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

The Printer's Park Medical Plaza building has reopened after authorities said they had determined why drinking water at the facility sickened about two dozen people.

The property manager of the facility, NexCore Properties LLC, said Wednesday that the chemical propylene glycol was found in the water after a mechanical contractor connected the building's heating system to the water system.

On October 29, Printers Parkway was closed after reports of discoloration and odor in the water, and about 24 employees and patients got sick.

Propylene glycol is an additive commonly used in heating systems. The Food and Drug Administration has classified it as "generally recognized as safe."

Dr. John Torres of Premier Urgent Care said the chemical can be consumed, but only in small amounts. He said larger doses can cause sickness.

"If you drink it or get it into your system, it's going to cause nausea and burning of the throat," said Dr. John Torres, of Premier Urgent Care. "In higher doses, it can cause kidney problems, it can cause liver problems, and in really high doses, it can even cause death."

Propylene glycol is found in many personal care items, like lipstick and lotion, and even some foods and beverages. But it's also an ingredient in antifreeze.

"So that shows you how safe it is in these small doses, that it's used in things we use for consumption, said Torres. "But I think everybody knows how bad it is to drink antifreeze--that's how you how bad it is in larger doses."

NexCore said Wednesday that the water system connection problem has been fixed and that the building's water system was disinfected and flushed. It said samples showed the water was safe.

The El Paso Co. Health Department has deemed the medical plaza safe to re-open. Memorial Hospital said its offices in the facility will open Monday. Contact your medical provider about appointments.

A spokesperson from NexCore says all people sickened by the water were treated and released from the hospital on the same day. It's not clear exactly how much of the chemical got into the water system.

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