CDC Workers Canvass East Palestine To Investigate Health Risks From Trail Derailment


Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention arrived in East Palestine, Ohio, Saturday to investigate the possible health risks stemming from a recent train derailment, after locals expressed concerns that chemicals released by the derailment could cause cancer or harm their health.

Key Facts

The CDC has started to canvass East Palestine while encouraging residents to discuss their symptoms and long-term health concerns, according to NBC News.

The CDC is joined by a team of officials from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, following an announcement by the White House last week that all three agencies would arrive to support local response efforts.

Residents of the town say they are experiencing rashes, sore throats, nausea and headaches in the weeks since the February 3 derailment, according to CNN, as some have expressed concern about the chemicals released by some of the rail cars—though the EPA previously stated there was no health risk.

Despite its statement, the EPA has noted that vinyl chloride—of which 115,580 gallons was released by the derailment, according to a preliminary report—does increase the risk for liver cancer if inhaled in large quantities.

Big Number

43,222. That’s how many animals have died in and around East Palestine since the train derailment, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Of these, 38,222 are minnows and the remaining 5,500 include other fish, crayfish and amphibians.

What To Watch For

Data collection by the CDC is expected to continue for up to two weeks, which could delay results from the data for more than a month.

Key Background

The EPA is leading a cleanup effort of the East Palestine, Ohio, site where a Norfolk Southern train derailed on February 3. No deaths have been recorded since the incident, though some residents have continued to report adverse health effects and have expressed concerns about possible long-term effects on the environment. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg—following a visit by EPA Administrator Michael Regan—visited the town earlier this week and called for tighter regulations on the rail industry. An initial report on the derailment by the National Transportation Safety Board indicated crew members were urged to slow down the train when a wheel bearing. Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the crash or whether the damaged wheel bearing played a role.

Further Reading

Buttigieg Grilled In East Palestine: Criticizes Trump As Derailment Sparks Partisan Feud (Forbes)

Ohio Train Derailment: Crew Received Alert About Overheated Wheel Bearing And Applied Emergency Brake, Officials Say (Forbes)