When 35-year-old Jason Eldridge arrived home last Thursday from his job as a systems administrator with a healthcare company in Charleston, West Virginia, he acted no differently than he normally would: he made dinner (that night, it was tacos) for his wife, his two-year-old daughter, and himself. Then the trio sat down to eat. It wasn't until afterwards, however, that they turned on the evening news and saw the main story: the tap water he'd used to fix his family's meal was poisoned.

By now, it's been thoroughly reported that Charleston-based Freedom Industries — a small, two-week old company that stored and distributed coal-processing chemicals from 11 huge, 48,000-gallon containment units on the shores of the Elk River — accidentally allowed 7,500 gallons of the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) to seep into the region’s main water source. The Elk supplies drinking water to some 300,000 residents through the publicly traded West Virginia American Water company. And because not much is known about MHCM, the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) was forced to order last Thursday that no one use the water flowing into homes and businesses in a nine-county region surrounding Charleston.

At first, Eldridge and his wife weren't concerned. They noticed the liquorice — or maybe coconut oil — smell of the coal chemical when they flushed their toilets. But they decided not to let it worry them that first night.

"I'm not someone who tends to freak out about things," Eldridge told The Verge yesterday. "So it wasn't until the next day, last Friday, that I realized, 'Ok, this might be a problem.'"

It was.