How dangerous are the chemicals in the derailment of the Ohio train

Train accident in East Palestine, Ohio

A Norfolk Southern freight train that was carrying a number of potentially hazardous chemicals derailed on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio. The incident is to blame. residents should be concerned about the water and air quality. even though authorities claim that both are now secure.

An inventory of the train's cargo was made public by the US Environmental Protection Agency, which is helping with the response. While some cars contained more benign items like malt liquors, semolina, and frozen vegetables, about 11 of them contained chemicals that could be toxic. During the incident, some of those containers burned or leaked.

Onboard chemicals that have raised questions include. Benzene, ethyl hexyl acrylate, butyl acrylate, vinyl chloride, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether.

Vinegar chloride. and . however acrylate. were the incident's main two chemicals, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, who spoke to the Washington Post. According to Keeve Nachman, a professor of environmental health and engineering at Johns Hopkins University, "there is no doubt that there are chemicals in the mix that have been associated with serious health effects, including cancer.". "Information about how people come into contact with these chemicals through the air, drinking water, or soil is really lacking. ".

In addition, he added, burning these substances can result in the creation of fresh, potentially harmful compounds.

Headaches, sore throats, and watery eyes have been reported by locals in and around East Palestine. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported on Tuesday that after the incident, about 3,500 fish died off in the nearby creeks near the town. Hundreds of irate East Palestine residents gathered for a town hall on Wednesday night to demand answers.

The municipal water supply and air have received a clean bill of health from state and federal agencies, but they have also urged residents to use private and well water, drink bottled water, and take advantage of free government testing. Additionally, as a precaution, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine advised citizens to drink bottled water.

The chemicals in the train, their functions, and any potential negative effects they may have on people or the environment are listed below.

A colorless, odorless gas called vinyl chloride is used to create PVC, a type of plastic found in many commonplace items.

However, vinyl chloride is also a known carcinogen and, depending on the length of exposure and the dose, can have harmful effects. It may result in serious conditions like liver cancer or simply cause headaches and nausea.

On February 6, after one of the freight carriages' temperatures dangerously increased, authorities carried out a controlled release of vinyl chloride. According to Governor DeWine, the release was required to stop an explosion that might have sent lethal shrapnel flying through the town.

A threatening pillar of black smoke rose high above East Palestine as a result of the vinyl chloride release. Environmental experts were more dubious despite the fact that officials had declared it safe for residents to return a few days later.

There are two toxic gases that vinyl chloride can release when it burns: chlorhydrogen gas. and . phosgene.

Butyl acrylate is an odorless liquid with a color similar to that of fruit. It is a component in the production of paints, resins, and polymers.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, exposure can cause allergic reactions, nausea, vomiting, and eye and nose irritation. Lung cancer can develop after prolonged exposure.

An entire load of butyl acrylate was lost in the collision due to spills and fire, according to the EPA's disclosure regarding the train's cargo.

Benzene is a colorless or pale yellow liquid with a high rate of evaporation. It is one of the substances that are most frequently used in the US and is found in products like plastic, resin, nylon, and some dyes, pesticides, and detergents.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, benzene can also be produced naturally by volcanoes or forest fires and is present in cigarette smoke, gasoline, and crude oil.

Drowsiness, tremors, nausea, vomiting, and insomnia are all possible effects of benzene exposure, whether it occurs through breathing or ingesting it. According to the CDC, extremely high exposure levels can cause unconsciousness or death. A year or longer of exposure could harm the immune system, bone marrow, or blood.

The substance ethyl hexyl acrylate exists. According to the CDC, it is a colorless liquid with a pungent smell that can be harmful if inhaled, consumed, or absorbed through the skin or eyes.

The substance can irritate the respiratory system, skin, and eyes.

Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, a different substance present on the train, is a varnish and paint additive. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, it is very flammable. The compound's vapours can irritate the eyes and nose, as well as cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and vomiting when inhaled.

According to Mr. Nachman, exposure to chemicals presents two main risks. Low-level, prolonged exposure to hazardous chemicals may cause problems like cancer. Shorter-term, more concentrated exposures, however, carry risks for both developing children and pregnant women in addition to the aforementioned symptoms.

According to Mr. Nachman, the information provided by the government so far "does not paint a clear enough picture of potential exposures.".

In essence, Mr. Nachman said, "we need to know if there are ongoing chemical releases, what they are, the potential routes of exposure for people—air, water, and in their homes—and how we can reduce their exposures.

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