The Toxic Chemicals Unleashed from the Train Derailment
On Feb. 3rd, 2023 a Norfolk Southern train heading to Conway, Pennsylvania derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. The freight train was carrying various products—including highly flammable materials—when it derailed, igniting the 11 cars carrying the hazardous materials and fueling fires that damaged additional railcars that weren’t derailed.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) disclosed that five materials were released due to the incident:
These chemicals entered the air, surface soils, and surface waters at the derailment area, causing the evacuation of thousands of residents until air and water quality tests proved that the area was safe. The EPA and Norfolk Southern continue to monitor the air quality and control the release of the chemicals as part of their investigation into the various hazardous chemicals in the train cargo. However, the chemicals have already killed more than 43,000 animals in and around East Palestine three weeks after the train derailment.
One chemical, in particular, has raised more concern compared to the others—vinyl chloride. Used to make polyvinyl chloride hard plastic resin in a variety of plastic products, vinyl chloride is also associated with an increased risk of liver, brain, and lung cancer as well as lymphoma and leukemia, according to the National Cancer Institute.