Train derailment leads to toxic chemical exposure in Ohio

"Experts are voicing doubt that the pollution levels are safe for humans, animals, and natural environments in the area."

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Image Credit: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

The train derailment that happened earlier this month in Ohio carrying toxic chemicals is raising both environmental and public health concerns. After 50 Norfolk Southern trains cars went off track and caused a major fire, billowing smoke throughout the town of East Palestine, experts are “voicing doubt that the pollution levels are safe for humans, animals, and natural environments in the area,” Causes.com reported.

The train contained chemicals and combustible materials, such as vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, hydrogen chloride, phosgene, along with other toxic chemicals.

While residents of the town were ordered to evacuate before crews conducted a “controlled release” of the hazardous materials on Feb. 6, the Environmental Protection Agency said it didn’t detect concerning levels of pollution in the air on Feb. 12, but said that residents, who have since returned home, may be able to smell an odor.

Experts “doubt that the pollution levels are safe for humans, animals, and natural environments in the area,” Causes.com reported, saying that inhalation of these fumes may cause dizziness, nausea, headache, or respiratory problems as well as other health concerns. Kevin Crist, a professor from Ohio University’s Air Quality Center said that long-term exposure to vinyl chloride, can lead to cancer. Ashok Kumar, a professor at the University of Toledo, said that exposure to the hydrogen chloride fumes could cause irritation in the throat and on the skin and exposure to phosgene fumes could lead to chest constriction and even choking.

Residents of East Palestine have reported experiencing burning sensations and headaches along with other health issues, NPR reported.

Cleanup of the toxic chemicals is said to take years to complete.

Lawsuit have been filed against Norfolk Southern for negligence by some business owners and residents of East Palestine demanding the company funds medical screenings for those exposed to the chemicals. 

 

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