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How Ohio's Toxic Train Derailment and Arizona's Hazmat Spill Are Impacting the Environment

Chemical spills in East Palestine, Ohio, and Tuscon, Arizona, come with adverse effects on human health and the environment.

toxic chemicals ohio
Written by
Calin Van Paris
One accident-slash-environmental-blight is problematic—two is downright toxic.
Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, are reeling weeks after a derailed train doused the area in
chemicals including
vinyl chloride, butyl acrylate, ethylhexyl acrylate, and ethylene glycol monobutyl,
according to the EPA
. The initial plume resulted in a mandatory evacuation, and even as residents are beginning to return, pollution of the Ohio River and the state's water supply is cause for concern. Thus far, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that the spill has
killed up to 3,500 fish
Meanwhile, in Tucson, Arizona, a highway accident resulted in a spill of nitric acid this past Wednesday. Though the
adverse health effects
that come with nitric acid—primarily irritations to mucus membranes—are limited to those who experienced more than 15 minutes of exposure, the second incident compounds the conversation around safety, as well as the release of these sorts of chemicals into the environment via leaks, smoke, and spills.
Though those who live in East Palestine are assured that all is well, complaints of headaches,
burning eyes
, and more are making some residents question the claims. Some animals are
already exhibiting signs of illness
, and the
EPA notes
that "materials released during the incident were detected in samples from Sulphur Run, Leslie Run, Bull Creek, North Fork Little Beaver Creek, Little Beaver Creek, and the Ohio River," and were observed entering storm drains.
In short, the long-term effects of the spill and the accompanying fumes on the environment are largely unknown. Still, perhaps this doubling-up of incidents will offer incentive for increased safety measures, updated policy, and general awareness around the impact of spills like these on our essential ecosystems.
Lead image: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS