High levels of dangerous chemicals found in East Palestine air

by Jacob Fuller

Chris Lieberman, FISM News

An independent assessment of the crash site around the February 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio found that nine chemicals in the air are at levels that could pose long-term health risks, despite the EPA’s assurance that it is safe for residents to return to their homes.

Researchers from Texas A&M University and Carnegie Mellon University found that the air in East Palestine contained higher-than-normal levels of acrolein, benzene, vinyl chloride, butadiene, naphthalene, o-Xylene, trichloroethylene, trichloroethane, and p-Xylene.

The greatest concern for researchers is the level of acrolein, a chemical used in algae killers as well as leather products. According to the CDC, acrolein is a “colorless or yellow liquid with a piercing, disagreeable odor” that may cause eye or skin irritation, decreased pulmonary function, delayed pulmonary edema, or chronic respiratory disease.

The EPA claims that these chemicals pose no short-term risk for residents and that levels should dissipate before more serious health problems develop. In a statement, the agency said,

EPA’s 24/7 air monitoring data continues to show that exposure levels of the 79 monitored chemicals are below levels of concern for adverse health impacts from short-term exposures. The long-term risks referenced by this analysis assume a lifetime of exposure, which is constant exposure over approximately 70 years. EPA does not anticipate levels of these chemicals will stay high for anywhere near that. We are committed to staying in East Palestine and will continue to monitor the air inside and outside of homes to ensure that these levels remain safe over time.

But these assurances would seem to defy the accounts of residents on the ground, many of whom are experiencing health problems in the weeks following the crash.

“Doctors say I definitely have the chemicals in me but there’s no one in town who can run the toxicological tests to find out which ones they are,” 40-year-old East Palestine resident Wade Lovett told the New York Post. “My voice sounds like Mickey Mouse. My normal voice is low. It’s hard to breathe, especially at night. My chest hurts so much at night I feel like I’m drowning. I cough up phlegm a lot. I lost my job because the doctor won’t release me to go to work.”


The Norfolk Southern Railway has come under fire ever since their train derailed in East Palestine last month, with pressure only mounting after a second Norfolk Southern train derailed in Ohio on Saturday. With CEO Alan Shaw scheduled to face a Senate hearing on Thursday, the company has announced a six-point plan to improve train safety in the future.

Four of the plan’s points relate to bearing detectors, which are installed on tracks to warn crews about overheated bearings. According to an NTSB report, surveillance of the East Palestine train shows, “A wheel bearing in the final stage of overheat failure moments before the derailment.”

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg has also faced intense criticism for the train derailment and his department’s response to the ensuing disaster, including calls for him to resign. Those calls were amplified when the secretary did not go to East Palestine until Feb. 23, nearly three weeks after the train derailed and a day after former President Donald Trump visited the town.

Though he conceded to making mistakes in his response, in an interview with CNN he called claims that he only went to East Palestine because Trump did, “bull****,” saying, “We were already going to go.”

“It’s really rich to see some of these folks ⁠— the former president, these Fox hosts ⁠— who are literally lifelong card-carrying members of the East Coast elite, whose top economic policy priority has always been tax cuts for the wealthy, and who wouldn’t know their way around a T.J. Maxx if their life depended on it, to be presenting themselves as if they genuinely care about the forgotten middle of the country,” he went on to say.