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What happened in Ohio?
Media reported that a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed in Eastern Ohio, United States, on February 3, 2023. Local emergency responders previously claimed to have conducted a "controlled release" of the toxic gas, vinyl chloride, which means releasing this toxic and carcinogenic gas under controlled conditions and allowing it to continue burning.Photo of train on fire from EPA.
Influences of Leakage and Explosion
Leakage and explosion caused the release of hydrogen chloride and phosgene into the surrounding air. Experts have also warned of the possibility of dioxin being produced by burning of vinyl chloride and residual unburned vinyl chloride. Although gaseous pollutants can dissipate more quickly in the air, dioxin can persist in the atmosphere for several days.
So, are the air you breathe, the water sources you come into contact with, and the soil you plant in really okay?
Harm of Vinyl Chloride
Vinyl chloride is used to manufacture polyvinyl chloride (PVC) hard plastic resin found in all plastic products, and is an important component of most plastic materials.
Short-term inhalation of high levels of vinyl chloride can have an anesthetic effect on the central nervous system, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, nausea, and drowsiness, and in severe cases, can cause confusion, coma, or even death.
Long-term exposure can cause varying degrees of damage to the central and peripheral nervous systems, digestive systems, respiratory systems, hematopoietic systems, endocrine systems, and reproductive systems in the human body.
Did All the Toxic Substances Disappear Completely after the Explosion?
Along with the incomplete combustion system caused by the explosion, various reactions were generated, making the post-accident handling more complicated. Many substances have a relatively high density and are easily settled on the ground surface, seeping into the soil, accumulating over time and becoming difficult to degrade. According to national and local officials, the municipal water sample results in the East Palestine village showed no water quality problems. The Columbia County Department of Health continued to sample private water wells. Before receiving test results, the Ohio Department of Health recommended that residents use bottled water.