COLUMBUS, Ohio — Independent researchers studying the amount of chemical contaminants in the air of East Palestine found their figures largely echoed air sampling data previously collected by the EPA, which showed concentrations of chemicals like vinyl chloride were at levels below normal limits.
But researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and Texas A&M University did find one contaminant – acrolein – at higher levels than what the EPA samples had shown.
If those levels remained consistent, it could pose a health concern, they said.
“The mobile data and the EPA data are in general agreement that concentrations are in many cases typical of what you would find in a North American City and below these health thresholds. The one that EPA and we identified as a potential concern is acrolein,” said Albert Presto with Carnegie Mellon University.
When looking more closely at the levels of acrolein, researchers found some concentrations in East Palestine were three times higher and in other areas five times lower to levesl found in Pittsburgh.
“There are places that are lower and there places that are higher than what we measured in Pittsburgh,” Presto said. “The vinyl chloride… the mobile lab data is similar to the EPA data. We didn’t see any hotspots we didn’t see any areas where there were intensely high concentrations.”
Acrolein can be used to kill bacteria in making certain products and online research shows too much exposure can cause dizziness and can irritate the lungs.
Since the Norfolk Southern train derailed February 3rd spilling toxic chemicals, residents have complained of breathing troubles, headaches, sore throats and rashes.
The EPA, Ohio EPA and Norfolk Southern’s contractors – which have conducted in-home and outdoor air monitoring and water sampling - have continuously said that the municipal water is safe to drink and that “no exceedances” have been found in sampling.
But even EPA administrator Michael Regan has acknowledged that there is a “deficit of trust” between East Palestine residents and those overseeing the cleanup.
Regan himself said he would not allow his child to play in East Palestine creeks. Residents have filmed themselves stirring the creeks which have revealed murky and rainbow like sheens on the water. Well-water testing is underway but Norfolk Southern is not publicly posting that data – only saying that those residents will be notified.
On Friday, newly laid railroad tracks were removed by Norfolk Southern contractors as part of an EPA mandate to remove contaminated soil from the derailment site.
So far, nearly 2.5 million gallons of wastewater have been removed along with 1700 tons of contaminated soil.
The waste has been taken to at least three facilities in Ohio and another in Indiana and Michigan – even over objections from politicians in those states.