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Aggie researchers in East Palestine say 9 toxic air pollutants higher than 'normal'

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Posted at 8:31 AM, Feb 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-27 16:31:12-05

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — Texas A&M University researchers are leading an independent analysis of the toxic derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

It's officially been over three weeks since the incident raised nationwide concerns about long-term health risks caused by toxic air pollutants.

Now, the Texas A&M Super Fund Research Center is looking to answer those questions.

It's reported that 10 of the 50 cars that derailed contained hazardous industrial materials, including the toxic chemical Vinyl chloride.

Following the incident, residents in the surrounding area have reported irritation to their skin and lungs, among other health concerns.

Since then, both state and federal regulators have cleared the air near the train crash site as being "safe" for locals.

However, an analysis conducted by A&M researchers - alongside a Carnegie Melon University teammate - found higher than "normal" toxic air pollutant levels remaining, even after several weeks.

The researchers said that 9 of the 50 chemical pollutants the Environmental Protection Agency had initially reported were still found to be at elevated levels.

These chemicals, such as acrolein, are known to cause multiple symptoms upon exposure - including eye and lung irritation, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Some of these chemicals are also known, or at least, suspected, to cause cancer.

However, both the EPA and Aggie research teams have been unified in clarifying one would need constant exposure over months - to possibly years - in order to have an increased cancer risk.

At this time, both believe the remaining pollutants will not last that long.

Analyzing the EPA's data, the researchers said that volatile chemicals spilled such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes appear to be at "normal" levels on their end as well.

The EPA has since cleared the impacted area after conducting indoor home air testing, stating they found no related pollutant levels that could pose any short-term exposure risk.

Now, Aggie researchers are trying to understand the potential health risks raised by pollutants that could have been missed by the EPA, including in unmonitored areas around the crash site.

Due to its complex nature, the Aggie researchers say they will need more time to analyze the data they have collected.

Meanwhile, residents in Houston have raised their own concerns after roughly 500,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from the Ohio derailment were shipped there for disposal.

President Biden has since confirmed that he has no plans to visit the derailment site, "at this moment."