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What’s in YOUR Water? (Episode II)

Yesterday’s post about water fluoridation reminded me of another recent water-related event. One Wednesday several weeks ago, two coeds were in my office to find out about a study abroad program I coordinate. The phone rang, and it was a woman asking, “My Vitamin Water ™ is cloudy. What has been put in it?”

What follows is the linear form of the story, not the order in which it came out. My first response was that it might be mold/mildew. I then learned she had bought the water on Tuesday and drank about a quarter of it, put the lid on and tossed it in her backpack. (She sounded like she was in her 20’s, and was not a student.) The next morning (earlier the day she called me), she took it out to drink and noticed 1) it was cloudy, 2) bubbled, fizzed, and smoked when she opened it, 3) it smelled funny.

SO, she did what I’m sure all of you would do at that point—she took a sip… … … AND SWALLOWED IT!!! She said it burned her throat going down. Now she was calling the local university’s chemistry department to see what she drank. This happened in the morning and it was now around 3 in the afternoon. (How she found my number out of the ~100 in our department, I have no idea.)

I very gently recommended she call poison control, and the police. It sounded like maybe someone may have put an acid in her drink, but from her description alone, I couldn’t be sure. She asked if there was someone locally who could test it. I replied there were some labs that could do that, but it would 1) be expensive 2) could possibly be considered tampering with evidence, and that the police should really be the ones testing it. Her response was that she didn’t want to call the police…because they’d already been there that morning for something else!! I asked if she had shown it to them then, and she said yes. The officer looked at it, smelled it and said it smelled like someone poured vodka into it. “But we don’t have any vodka here!” was her response.

I again gently urged her to call poison control and the police and that was all I could do for her and ended the conversation. The poor gals sitting in my office hearing my side of the conversation were wide-eyed. “Poison control?” “Police?” “Acid or mold in a drink?”

It has occurred to me that this may well have been a crank call, and if so, it was pretty good. Maybe they recorded it and put it on the web somewhere. If you find it, let me know—I want to hear it! Maybe it was real. I don’t know. But I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the story, including here.


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