What is 4-methylcyclohexane methanol?

Crews clean up a chemical spill along the Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia, which compromised the public water supply of eight counties on Thursday, January 9.

More than 100,000 people in central and southern West Virginia have been advised not to drink the water because it's possibly unsafe. A 48,000-gallon storage tank along the Elk River is leaking a chemical called 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. It's often confused with other similarly named chemicals that can potentially be lethal.

To help avoid confusion, here's some information about 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, taken from the American Association of Poison Control Centers and CNN's previous reporting:

This chemical is used to:

-- Wash coal before it goes to market to reduce ash, also known as the "froth flotation process" of coal preparation

People can be exposed to this chemical by:

-- Inhalation

-- Ingestion

    -- Skin and/or eye contact

    Symptoms:

    -- Nausea

    -- Vomiting

    -- Dizziness

    -- Headaches

    -- Diarrhea

    -- Red or irritated skin

    -- Itching

    -- Rashes

    Little is known about the safety implications for 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, according to the state's Poison Control director Dr. Elizabeth Scharman because it hasn't been adequately studied.

    West Virginians told not to drink or bathe in water