EPA research data suggests Ohio’ s chemicals could pose long-term health risks

EPA research data suggests Ohio’ s chemicals could pose long-term health risks

An independent analysis of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data from the Ohio train derailment site revealed that several toxic chemicals found could pose long-term health risks if they persist at current levels. Scientists from Texas A&M and Carnegie Mellon University examined the measurements of air pollutants collected by the EPA and discovered that nine pollutants were present at higher than normal levels. According to their research, acrolein, a chemical that can cause inflammation and irritation of the skin, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes, had the highest level among the pollutants detected in East Palestine.

The researchers stated on Twitter that the pollutants could be of concern if they continue at their current levels. Dr. Albert Presto, one of the researchers, mentioned that acrolein was not elevated to the point where an immediate evacuation would be necessary. Still, the long-term risks of the pollutant are unknown, and it is unclear how long the concentration that causes the risk will persist. According to the EPA, the current higher-than-normal concentrations of the pollutants are expected to dissipate and do not pose a risk to residents’ short-term health.

Weihsueh Chiu, another researcher, informed The Washington Post that residents would have to be exposed to the increased level of pollutants for months, if not years, to develop serious health effects. An EPA spokesperson informed CNN that the long-term risks mentioned by the analysis assume a lifetime of exposure, which is consistent exposure for about 70 years. The EPA does not expect the levels of these chemicals to remain high for anywhere near that long.

Despite the EPA’s reassurances, some residents who live near the site of the February 3 train derailment said they’ve experienced skin rashes and difficulty breathing. The researchers cautioned that even if the toxins dissipate, chemicals that saturated different soil and areas could be stirred up by weather events and temperature changes, posing additional risks. The associate research professor of mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University said that they don’t know the health impact of a more chronic, low-level exposure. The researchers concluded that the EPA would need to ensure that the higher levels detected are reduced before leaving and declaring everything cleaned up.

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