Residents in East Palestine and nearby Pennsylvania are still worried about the toxic chemicals that could be lingering in their neighborhoods, days after a train derailed and caused a hazardous materials release. On Friday, 50 cars, including 10 carrying hazardous materials, derailed and ignited a fire in East Palestine. One of the chemicals released was vinyl chloride, which was burned in a controlled environment to get rid of it.
Vinyl chloride is a gas that is used to make PVC plastic resin and can be found in various plastic products such as furniture, car parts, and PVC piping, which is a common material for plumbing. However, vinyl chloride is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the National Cancer Institute. Studies have shown that workers who breathed in vinyl chloride and developed liver cancers, who had a higher risk if their exposure levels were high.
The controlled burn of vinyl chloride released phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the air. Phosgene is a highly toxic gas that can cause breathing problems and was used as a weapon in World War I, while hydrogen chloride primarily causes skin, eye, nose, and throat irritation. The US Environmental Protection Agency has set air quality standards for these gases and has monitored the area with air station monitors, but residents are still concerned about long-term effects of low-grade exposure.
The National Guard is taking readings inside homes, basements, and businesses to ensure safety. The EPA is also sampling nearby rivers to determine if there has been any water contamination. Despite the efforts of the incident response team, residents remain worried about the safety of returning to their homes in the near future.
George Gray, a public health professor at George Washington University, says that gases dissipate rapidly when out in the open but can be affected by sunlight, air movement, and temperature. Residents are concerned about the long-term effects of low-grade exposure to the chemicals and smoke released during the controlled burn.
In conclusion, residents are still worried about the impact of the hazardous materials release from the train derailment in Ohio. The incident response team is working to determine safe levels for various gases before reopening the evacuation zone, but residents remain concerned about the long-term effects of low-grade exposure to the toxic substances in the area.