Expert: East Palestine, Ohio train derailment

Published: 20 February 2023

While officials have repeatedly sought to assure residents that the water and air in East Palestine, Ohio, are safe after the derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials earlier this month, anxiety has permeated the community amid reports of rashes, nausea and headaches. While it was deemed safe for evacuated residents to return home on February 8, community members have questioned how safe their village is and the validity of the air and water tests. (CNN)

Here is an expert from McGill University who can provide comment on this topic:

Scott Weichenthal, Associate Professor, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health

The chemicals released following the train derailment have known adverse health effects. Burning these chemicals as a means of disposal likely created many more harmful chemicals in the smoke released. Though officials were faced with a difficult decision (i.e., an explosion vs. a large, controlled fire), this certainly released many harmful chemicals into the environment. Environmental monitoring is needed to understand the spatial distribution of pollutants, sources of exposure, population at risk, etc. This environmental monitoring should be done over the long term until the data convincingly demonstrate that pollutants released from the disaster do not pose a health risk.”

Scott Weichenthal is an Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. His research program is dedicated to identifying and evaluating environmental risk factors for chronic diseases such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.

scott.weichenthal [at] (English)

Back to top