May 19, 2024

Potential health effects of Ohio train derailment

On Feb. 3, a train derailed in Ohio near the Pennsylvania border. The train held 150 rail cars full of what was initially said to be “nonhazardous” and consisted of “cement, steel, and frozen vegetables” 

In the days following, several citizens of East Palestine, Ohio noticed a “chlorine” smell and started to assume this train derailment was more than met the eye. 

It was later revealed that five cars were carrying the cancer-causing, hazardous vinyl chloride. Once the train derailed, Norfolk Southern railway enacted a controlled burn and released the chemicals into gas. 

Many were left wondering exactly what vinyl chloride was, and what it would do to them. Vinyl chloride is used in the making of plastic, more specifically PVC. According to the National Cancer Institute, the gas can lead to a rare form of liver cancer if ingested. It can also be linked to brain, lung, lymphoma and leukemia cancers. 

Residents of East Palestine are now noting that their animals are getting sick from the inhalation of the gas after the crash. The local humane society has reported that they “had received reports from more than 20 families, but that number is constantly climbing, and some of those families have multiple animals.” Many people are starting to get concerned about their own health and how the gas may affect them later on. As noted, there is a strange smell in the town, and many report feeling “dizzy and off” in the aftermath of the derailment. 

Carmen Miranda, a local resident of Poland, Ohio, 12 miles north of East Palestine, is experiencing some of her own symptoms due to the train derailment. Miranda said, “I went outside the day after and I thought it smelled a little weird. I could not see anything in the sky. When they warned us to stay inside, the day after the burn, I could really smell a chemical smell. I was at work during the burn, and the day after [I] noticed that raindrops on my truck had a blue tint. I washed my truck immediately.” 

Major environmentalist, Erin Brockovich, and former president, Donald Trump, have both recently visited East Palestine to offer their support.

When asked if she had a message for those reading this article, Miranda said, “This is something that you can’t cover up. I think that Norfolk Southern is used to getting their way just like any large corporation with billions of dollars. Something will and has to be done.”  

With the upcoming visit with Brockovich, it will be interesting to see if more information will be released to the public on what to do. One major concern of most citizens is how water will be affected, and if the gas will run into the Ohio River. As of right now, Greater Cincinnati Water Works has reported that there is no contamination running into the Ohio River. This could change with more reports coming out and more testing done on the river water. 

The most many can say is to take precautions and report if anything tastes or smells off in the upcoming weeks as East Palestine tries to take control of the situation.


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