Residents Ill in Ohio Town Where Train Carrying Toxic Chemicals Derailed

  • A train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio earlier this month, leading to the release of toxic chemicals. 
  • Authorities also deliberately burned more chemicals over concerns of a potential explosion. 
  • Now, medical records reviewed by NBC News show illnesses in some residents stemming from likely chemical exposure. 

Ohio residents and workers who live near the train that spilled toxic chemicals earlier this month are getting diagnosed with conditions that health professionals suspect may be linked to the chemical exposure, NBC News reported. 

The Norfolk Southern train derailed on February 5 and had about 150 cars, of which 20 were carrying hazardous materials, Insider previously reported. The crash resulted in a fire that burned chemicals in derailed train cars. However, authorities also purposefully burned chemicals over concerns of a possible explosion. 

While authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Gov. Mike DeWine, have reassured residents that the air is safe to breathe and the water is safe drink, residents are still worried about their health and safety, Insider reported. 

NBC News reported that just two days after the train derailed, resident Melissa Blake, who lives within a mile of the site, began struggling to breathe and coughing up gray mucus. Medical records reviewed by NBC News showed that Blake was diagnosed with acute bronchitis due to chemical fumes.”

Insider has not independently verified the medical documents. 

Blake has since evacuated her home and has not returned since being discharged from the hospital, NBC News reported. 

“They gave me a breathing machine. They put me on oxygen. They gave me three types of steroids,” Blake said. She has yet to move back home since being discharged nearly three weeks ago. 

Politico reported that epidemiologists and environmental health scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were also in Ohio last week to assess and investigate health risks from the train derailment. 

Deborah Weese, a nurse practitioner at a nearby urgent care, told NBC News she sees somewhere between five to 10 people a day who come in with symptoms consistent with chemical exposure. 

“They’re complaining of burning to their lungs, nasal drainage, eyes burning, throat pain, unknown rashes that have started since they’ve been back to their homes,” she said.

She added that for some patients their symptoms get worse the longer they remain exposed to the chemicals. 

“When they go back home, their symptoms get worse or their lungs are burning more or they feel like they can’t catch their breath, those kinds of things. So it’s showing consistently that when they leave, they’re better. When they go back home, they feel worse,” she said.

Other symptoms consistent with chemical exposure include headaches, nausea and rashes, which have been reported by residents, NBC News reported. 

“How can you say our air quality or our water is safe when we’re having all these people with these symptoms and health issues?” Melissa Boyer, who lives less than 250 feet from the derailment site told NBC News. 

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