However, many residents have expressed fears about the ramifications on their health, and reports have been flooding in detailing the concerning symptoms many of those in the area are experiencing, as well as the effects it has had on area wildlife.
Although authorities had initially warned that burning the vinyl chloride found in some of the derailed cars would emit the toxic gas phosgene and hydrogen chloride into the air, they later said that air monitoring had shown the levels both within and outside the evacuation zone were not dangerous. East Palestine Fire Chief Keith Drabick even said that water and air samples taken from the area revealed that it was safe.
However, many area residents are painting a far different picture of the reality on the ground. One family who lives outside of the designated “danger of death” zone has been experiencing aggressive symptoms, including coughing up blood, and decided to flee their home to protect their health.
They now fear developing cancer in the years to come given the presence of two carcinogens in the huge black cloud that engulfed their property in the days following the derailment.
Nathan and Kelly Izotic reported finding dead fish in the creek running through their property, which was covered with a toxic blue film. The sounds of squirrels and birds on their idyllic woodland property has disappeared, and the family dog became lethargic and started throwing up.
Kelly said her family experienced burning noses and lips, severe headaches, chest congestion and sore throats within 24 hours of the incident. Nathan described his symptoms to the media: “The day after the derailment I started having symptoms, almost like Covid symptoms, like someone was pushing down on my chest. I had very strong pressure.
“Throughout the day it started getting severe. I had a very bad cough, very bad feeling in my lungs and throat. And the following day it got worse.”
Kelly, who works as a chemical lab technician, noted: “You have all these chemicals that reacted when they hit each other, then they reacted when they heated up and then they reacted again from the rain.
"So when it heats up it turns to chloride, when it rains it turns to an acid. There could be tens of thousands of compounds that this has turned into and you just don't know what you are dealing with."
The couple say they bought the property with the intention of living there forever, but now they fear the land will never recover.
The main chemical of concern here is dioxins, which were created by the vinyl chloride combustion process and are in the area’s air, water, soil and homes. They are expected to make their way into the crops and livestock that people eat. They move easily through the environment and were likely deposited on surrounding agricultural land as well. These chemicals are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
State officials admitted yesterday that the derailment may have killed more than 43,000 amphibians, crustaceans, fish and other aquatic animals. Some residents have reported finding dead roosters, rabbits and foxes, with animals like pigs becoming ill with strange symptoms.
In addition to the carcinogenic dioxins that poisoned the area, there are also concerns about the presence of toxic PFAS from firefighting foam at the crash site, which likely contaminated soil and water and does not break down in the environment. And, what we are hearing about now is just the beginning; the effects of this disaster could well impact people in the area for generations to come.
Sources for this article include: