He said that to truly understand the future health effects of such a chemical spill, it is necessary to know the amount of contact people have with these substances.
Nachman noted that when the train derailed, vinyl chloride was not only released into the environment, but also burned. Three days after the derailment, railroad workers and rescuers carried out a controlled release of vinyl chloride and incineration to prevent an explosion. Huge black smoke rising from the cleanup area has alarmed residents, who are no longer aware of the health risks they may face.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently tweeted that the local water is safe to drink. In response, several people advised him to drink the water himself and then tell them.
Burning vinyl chloride produces phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) no longer poses a threat to residents. But incineration can also produce polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which Nachman says can be carcinogenic (long-term exposure increases the chance of cancer). PAHs are not mentioned on the EPA accident press page.
Peter DeCarlo, another environmental health researcher, said a more efficient form of sampling involves taking the air into special containers and taking it to a lab for analysis. “If they don’t do this at the crash site and in the wind away from the crash site, they overlook the potential risks that exist.”.
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