Some people who returned to their houses this week in East Palestine, Ohio, report experiencing new symptoms like rashes, sore throats, nausea, and headaches, and they worry that these are connected to toxins discharged during a railroad crash two weeks ago.
Due to the large fire that broke out on February 3 and the risk that dangerous, highly flammable material would catch fire, hundreds of people living in the area were evacuated. The hazardous vinyl chloride gas was vented and burned to prevent an explosion, sending a plume of black smoke over the town for days.
The US Environmental Protection Agency lists butyl acrylate, ethylene glycol mono butyl ether acetate, and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate as further compounds of concern at the site, in addition to phosgene and hydrogen chloride, which are generated as vinyl chloride breaks down. All of these chemicals have the potential to transform into a toxic soup as they degrade or react with other substances in the environment.
Air monitoring in East Palestine did not discover any elevated pollutants of concern on February 8, therefore residents were given the green light to return home.
For the Sake of my Loved Ones I cannot take any chances with their Health
Amanda Greathouse explained that they made the decision they couldn’t stay in the area to raise their children after returning home on the tenth. The odor was so bad that it “reminded me of hair perming solution.”
Greathouse claimed that she had been back in their home for 30 minutes after leaving the collision site before she began to feel sick and break out in a rash. Greathouse, a father of two preschoolers, said, “When we left, I had a rash on the skin of my arm, and my eyes were burning for a few days after that.”
After the accident, she and her husband have only made two trips back to their house, and both were solely to get essentials like documents and clothing.
“The chemical odour was so overpowering that it gave me a stomachache.”
I needed to swiftly gather my belongings and get out of there. To be honest, I just packed a few items of clothing because everything reeked of chemicals and I didn’t want to expose my children to that.
Since the accident, she claims, she has also kept her children out of preschool. Her son’s teacher has reassured her that the class is using only bottled water, but she still has her doubts.
Looking for Clarification
Also, Audrey DeSanzo would like some clarification. DeSanzo, who lives about half a mile from the derailment with her two elementary-school-aged children, asked, “How safe is it, really?” The widespread reports of chemical-related skin irritation, ocular inflammation, and infection disprove the hypothesis that “everyone is just crazy.”
In order to stay here, you get a sore throat. The air smells bad. DeSanzo and her children fled across the state border to Pennsylvania, where her uncle owned an unoccupied duplex when the train derailed. They used the floor and the couch as their bed.
DeSanzo reports that upon her return home this week, she opened all the windows, cleaned the carpets, and washed all the bedding and clothes. Her children were coughing, so she took the family to an urgent care center because “our throats were raw.”
Residents Claim they can’t Return to their Homes Despite Assurances
Since April, Ayla and Tyler Antoniazzi and their two young girls have been residing in East Palestine. Ayla says they weren’t sure after the train accident if they wanted to leave, but are now giving serious thought to doing so.
The Antoniazzi family moved back into their home the following day, less than a mile from the accident site.
“Before bringing my kids back home, I washed all the linen and a bunch of clothes, cleaned surfaces and aired the house out,” Ayla said.
“But the next day when they woke up, they weren’t themselves. My oldest had a rash on her face. The youngest did too but not as bad. The 2-year-old was holding her eye and complaining that her eye was hurting. She was very lethargic, so I took them back to my parents’ home.”
While Ayla and her husband make sure their East Palestine house is secure, their girls are staying with Ayla’s parents in Leetonia, roughly 20 minutes west of East Palestine. She said that the children’s conditions improved in Leetonia, but that one of them developed a new rash on February 13 upon returning to school in East Palestine.
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