What a Health Risk Scientist Still Wants to Know About the Ohio Train Derailment
In the two weeks since a 150-car train carrying toxic materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, officials are still work to determine the risk to residents and the local environment. With a lack of fast and reliable facts, Misinformation and conspiracies have spread across social media and even mainstream news.
This morning, I spoke to… Keeve NachmanAssociate Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Hhe told me, to really understand the future health consequences of such a chemical catastropheOfficials need to know how much exposure people have had to the substances involved.
“Not much emphasis has been placed on how well we understand people’s exposure to the chemicals,” he told Earther. “In my field, risk science, it’s really, really important to know those two things… how much exposure people have to the chemicals and what the chemicals do when you’re exposed to them.”
Nachman pointed out that vinyl chloride was not simply released into the environment when spilled from a derailed train car –it was also burned. 3 days after the derailment, Railway operators and emergency services introduced controlled release and combustion from viNjl Chloride to avoid explosion. A large cloud of black smoke rose above the clean-up area, alarming local residents who are now unsure of the health risks they can present themselves.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine tweeted Wednesday that the municipal water is safe to drink. Several people have replied, DeWine told him to drink the water himself and then report back to them. At a turbulent town hall this week, parishioners demanded answers about their safety. Representatives from Norfolk Southern did not participatewhich further angered the residents of East Palestine.
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when it’s burned Vinyl chloride produces phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which the EPA says it does no longer a threat to residents in a February 14 update. But burning can also produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which can be carcinogenic, to Nachman. PAHs are not mentioned in the EPA Derailment Press Page. Nachman thinks the EPA and other responding agencies should do so Test for these PAK near the derailment site, along with the other chemicals mentioned in its press updates.
“PAHs aren’t the kind of chemicals you’d be particularly concerned about shorting out.Expression, high-lExposure, but … when you’re exposed for a very long time, even at low levels, a person’s risk of cancer increases significantly,” he said.
Nachman is also concerned about the type of data the EPA has collected to date. “They said most of what they did they call surveillance. And that’s what happens with these wearable devices, which aren’t very sensitive and don’t tell you a lot of different chemicals.”
Another expert, environmental health researcher Peter DeCarlo told Earther earlier this week that a better form of sampling is by trapping air in special canisters and take them to a laboratory for analysis. “That’s the kind of monitoring that really gives us an idea of what the concentrations of potential risk are,” DeCarlo said. “So if they don’t do that at the accident site and downwind of the accident site, they’re overlooking the potential risks.”
I asked Nachman if he felt safe staying in East Palestine or if he wantsd drink the water there. “We just don’t know enough to answer that question,” he replied.
Nachman is hopeful after reading the EPA’s Feb. 17 update, which mentions the coordination between them EPA Region 5, which covers Ohio, and EPA Region 3, covering proximity Pennsylvania, as well as with the headquarters of the agency. “THere are people in Pennsylvania who have been exposed to the wind,” he said. “The Exposure has been much less explored.”
“I only have sympathy for the people who live there, and the uncertainty that I know can really weigh on a person,” he said. “I am confident that the agency’s presence over the past 24 hours will result in better understanding and more effective security measures.”
https://gizmodo.com/health-risks-ohio-train-derailment-vinyl-chloride-1850130109 What a Health Risk Scientist Still Wants to Know About the Ohio Train Derailment