In The Know: Updates from East Palestine, Ohio

It’s been a little over two months since the devastating Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio that left lasting environmental impacts on the community.

The trains carried hazardous materials and, because of the derailment, had to be disposed. Emergency crews decided that there would be a “controlled burning” of the chemicals for two days. While the crew thought this was the best decision, it was counterproductive and only began the start of the community issues.

Right now, communities and the surrounding members of the area are searching for answers, those of which their government is not giving.

They are, however, still dealing with the effects of the vinyl chloride.

The CAS Science Team released an article explaining how vinyl chloride can have negative effects on someone, citing the damage it can cause from ingestion, inhalation or skin contact.

“Exposure to vinyl chloride through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact can lead to its absorption into the bloodstream, where it is transported to the liver. In the liver, vinyl chloride is metabolized by the enzyme cytochrome P450, producing a highly reactive intermediate called chloroethylene oxide (Figure 1).” The article read, “This molecule contains an epoxide group (highlighted in red) that can readily bind to the bases in DNA (guanine as an example), resulting in the formation of DNA adducts. These adducts can cause DNA mutations, which may ultimately lead to the development of cancer.”

Even though it was a controlled burn in East Palestine, significant amounts of vinyl chloride, a carcinogen that can harm people and wildlife, were still released into the surrounding environment, including soil, water and air.

Another bit of important information that comes from the situation is the by-product that vinyl chloride can produce called a “dioxin.” Dioxins are environmental contaminants that are created as a byproduct of burning vinyl chloride.

According to the CAS Science Team, “Dioxins are highly toxic that can mimic or activate transcription factors and cause misregulation in gene expression, resulting in many disrupted physiological functions.”

The website also goes on to discuss the ways in which dioxins can affect hormones like estrogen, androgen and thyroid hormones, leading to the abnormalities in reproductive, developmental and immune systems.

It’s important to realize that after accidents like these, there is significant focus on the short-term affects. As quickly as this news headlined across the Internet and broadcast television is just as quickly it left. The long-term effects are still being discussed on social media even if it’s not being discussed in the news. People are still suffering and fighting for information as to how this disaster will affect them long-term.

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