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Study: Chemicals from East Palestine train crash spread to 16 states

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The February 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, and the decision to burn off toxic chemicals apparently spread contaminated air and rain to as many as 16 states. According to a new analysis published in the “Environmental Research Letters” journal on Wednesday, June 19, chemical remnants covered 14% of the U.S. land area.

Researchers said they detected chemical remnants from South Carolina to Wisconsin to New England. Their analysis found the decision to burn off toxic chemicals caused the spread of pollutants into the air, and eventually, the rain.

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The findings are raising concerns about the lasting impacts to human health and the environment. The lead author of the study said that they were surprised to find chemical concentrations so far from the original burn site. He said that the chemicals could seep into the ground, potentially hurting marine life and plants.

The Norfolk Southern train had cars carrying vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, when it derailed. Officials made an emergency decision to burn off the chemicals in an effort to avoid a catastrophic explosion.

Following the burn, residents nearby reportedly experienced rashes, nausea and headaches. However, the study found that samples taken during the week of the accident showed contamination of soot, ash and dirt in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and New York.

Researchers involved in the study said that it is unclear what the long-term impacts to human health and the environment may be. However, lawmakers in Congress are already looking to find out the answer to that question.

There is a growing bipartisan push for swift action on a House bill that would fund a study on the long-term health effects of the derailment burn off. On Tuesday, June 18, lawmakers made a request for a public hearing on the subject.

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[LAUREN TAYLOR]

THE TOXIC FALLOUT FROM LAST YEAR’S TRAIN DERAILMENT IN OHIO – COULD BE MORE WIDESPREAD THAN FIRST THOUGHT.

A NEW ANALYSIS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT FROM THE EAST PALESTINE CRASH SITE FOUND CHEMICALS SPREAD TO AS MANY AS 16 STATES.

THE FINDINGS ARE RAISING CONCERNS ABOUT THE LASTING IMPACTS TO PUBLIC HEALTH. 

CHEMICAL REMNANTS WERE DETECTED FROM SOUTH CAROLINA TO WISCONSIN. IN ALL – COVERING 14 PERCENT OF THE U-S LAND AREA.

THE ANALYSIS FOUND THE DECISION TO BURN OFF TOXIC CHEMICALS HELPED TO SPREAD THE POLLUTANTS INTO THE AIR AND RAIN.

THE LEAD AUTHOR OF THE STUDY SAID THEY WERE SURPRISED TO FIND CHEMICAL CONCENTRATIONS SO FAR AWAY FROM THE BURN SITE. 

THE TRAIN, BELONGING TO NORFOLK SOUTHERN, DERAILED WITH CARS CARRYING VINYL CHLORIDE, A KNOWN CARCINOGEN. AN EMERGENCY DECISION WAS MADE BY OFFICIALS TO BURN OFF THE CHEMICALS TO AVOID A CATASTROPHIC EXPLOSION.

SAMPLES TAKEN DURING THE WEEK OF THE ACCIDENT SHOWED CONTAMINATION OF SOOT, ASH AND DIRT, IN PENNSYLVANIA, MICHIGAN, MASSACHUSETTS, WISCONSIN AND NEW YORK. 

RESEARCHERS SAY IT’S UNCLEAR WHAT THE LONG-TERM IMPACTS COULD BE TO THE COMMUNITIES AFFECTED BUT LAWMAKERS ARE LOOKING TO FIND OUT.

THERE’S A GROWING BI-PARTISAN PUSH FOR SWIFT ACTION ON A HOUSE BILL THAT WOULD FUND A STUDY ON THE LONG-TERM HEALTH EFFECTS OF THE DERAILMENT. 

AND A REQUEST FOR A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE SUBJECT HAS BEEN MADE. 

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