Vinyl chloride released in Ohio train derailment linked to liver damage
By Zoey Sky // Feb 24, 2023

Vinyl chloride – a chemical being transported in some of the train cars that derailed and burned in East Palestine, Ohio early this month – can harm the human liver.

Data suggests that vinyl chloride may also cause liver cancer and a nonmalignant liver disease called toxicant-associated steatohepatitis (TASH).

Liver health and exposure to vinyl chloride

If someone who is otherwise healthy develops TASH, their liver can develop the same fat accumulation, inflammation and scarring (cirrhosis and fibrosis) as those who have cirrhosis from factors like alcohol or obesity.

This kind of damage is often the result of "relatively high levels of vinyl chloride exposure," such as the kind an industrial worker might experience on a normal day on the job.

But even exposures to lower environmental concentrations are worth studying because not much is known about the impact low-level exposure might have on liver health, particularly for those with underlying liver disease and other risks.

Juliane I. Beier, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Environmental Health, Member of Pittsburgh Liver Research Center, University of Pittsburgh, studies the impact of vinyl chloride exposure on the liver, especially on how it may affect those with underlying liver disease.

Her recent findings have changed the current understanding of the risk. (Related: ENVIRO-TERROR in Ohio as TOXIC GAS CLOUD unleashed when “authorities” set fire to vinyl chloride to DISPERSE it over skies, farms and rivers.)

PVC and Rubbertown

Vinyl chloride is used to produce polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a hard plastic material used to make pipes. PVC is also used in certain kinds of packaging, coatings and wires.

In the 1970s, its health risks were discovered at a B.F. Goodrich factory in Rubbertown, a neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, located along the Ohio river. Experts found that four workers who were involved in the polymerization process for producing polyvinyl chloride all developed angiosarcoma of the liver, a very rare type of tumor.

The cases of the four B.F. Goodrich workers became one of the most important sentinel events in the history of occupational medicine. The Rubbertown case also resulted in the worldwide recognition of vinyl chloride as a confirmed carcinogen.

The liver acts as your body’s filter for removing toxicants from the blood. Hepatocytes are specialized cells that help reduce the toxicity of alcohol, caffeine, drugs and environmental chemicals.

These cells also send away the waste to be excreted.

The hallmark of vinyl chloride exposure to the liver is a contradictory combination of "normal liver function tests and the presence of fat in the liver and the death of hepatic cells, which make up the bulk of the liver's mass."

But as of writing, the detailed mechanisms that result in vinyl chloride-induced liver disease have not yet been fully understood.

Studies suggest that exposure to vinyl chloride, even at levels below the federal limits for safety, can worsen liver disease caused by a typical "Western diet" that is full of fat and sugar. This previously unidentified interaction between vinyl chloride and underlying fatty liver diseases suggests that the risk from lower vinyl chloride exposures may be underestimated and should be studied more.

How to protect yourself against vinyl chloride exposure

In outdoor air, vinyl chloride gets diluted fairly quickly. Sunlight also breaks vinyl chloride down within nine to 11 days.

This means outdoor air exposure is likely not a problem, except with intense periods of exposure, such as immediately following a release of vinyl chloride like in the Ohio chemical spill.

Workers at facilities where vinyl chloride is produced or used may be exposed to the primarily through inhalation. The general population may be exposed to the chemical by inhaling contaminated air or tobacco smoke.

If you are involved in a similar incident and you notice a chemical smell or you feel itchy or disorientated, leave the area immediately and seek emergency medical attention.

Vinyl chloride also disperses in water. Fortunately, the federal Clean Water Act requires monitoring and removing volatile organic compounds like vinyl chloride from municipal water supplies.

However, if you own a private well it could become contaminated if vinyl chloride enters the groundwater. Unfortunately, private wells aren't regulated by the Clean Water Act and aren't often monitored.

If you have a well and your water supply is contaminated, vinyl chloride can enter household air when you use the water for showering, laundry or cooking.

Keep this in mind if you are involved in an incident similar to the Ohio train derailment and there is a chance that you might be exposed to harmful chemicals like vinyl chloride that might harm your liver health.

Go to for more tips on how to protect your liver.

Watch the video below to learn how broccoli sprouts can help support liver function.

This video is from the Health Ranger Store channel on

More related stories:

Learn how to spot signs of acute chemical exposure and how to detoxify.

Study: “Forever chemicals” in popular cooking products increase risk of liver cancer.

A train carrying toxic chemicals derails and EXPLODES in Ohio; media BLACKOUT ensues while animals die en masse.

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