Researchers Say One-Third Of The Nation’s Population Were Impacted By East Palestine Derailment

( — The hazardous chemicals unleashed during the February 2023 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, spread pollution across 16 states, a new study concluded.

According to a study published last Wednesday in Environmental Research Letters, the pollution from the derailment and the subsequent controlled burn reached 540,000 square miles, or 14 percent of the continental US, spreading throughout the Midwest, Northeast, and Southern states.

Roughly 110 million US residents, or about a third of the population, were impacted by the pollution.

To determine the extent of the impact, researchers collected and analyzed water and snow samples from 260 sites in surrounding states the week of January 31, 2023, and the week after the derailment (February 14, 2023), and found “a large area impact from the Midwest through the Northeast” and possibly as far south as North Carolina and as far north as Canada.

Exceptionally high levels of Chloride as well as elevated pH levels were found along the US-Canadian border and in northern Pennsylvania compared to previous data.

The testing samples from Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and most of New York included soot ash and dirt, while pollutants were found in the air in southern states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Nineteen of the testing sites had at least one chemical compound that read in the 99th percentile. Eight other sites had four or more chemical compounds in the 99th percentile.

The study also found that the impacts from the controlled fires in several of the derailed train cars exceeded the scale and scope that were initially predicted, most likely caused by the uplift that sent even more pollutants into the atmosphere.

After the February 2023 derailment, the University of Kentucky’s Epidemiology and Environmental Health Department surveyed roughly 400 East Palestine area residents about the impact the accident had on their health.

The survey found that about 75 percent suffered from health problems following the derailment and more than half reported that the problems continued into the fall of 2023.

Earlier this year, Norfolk Southern, agreed to settle a class action lawsuit over the derailment for $600 million.

Copyright 2024,