Providers worry Ohio derailment behind swath of respiratory issues, other ailments

Medical professionals believe the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, is behind a number of health issues residents are now experiencing, NBC News reported Feb. 25. 

In the weeks since a Norfolk Southern train transporting six hazardous industrial chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, NBC spoke to residents living and working in the area who have been diagnosed with bronchitis and other issues. 

Among them are several workers at CeramFab, a manufacturing company adjacent to the site, who have been diagnosed with chemical bronchitis. The company's general manager, Howard Yang, said operations were suspended for about a week after the Feb. 3 derailment. Within days of resuming work, employees started "dropping like flies," with symptoms including rashes, eye issues, vomiting and coughing, Mr. Yang told NBC

Affected individuals were sent to the hospital and most were diagnosed with "chemical bronchitis," he said. NBC was unable to independently verify residents' diagnoses, though reporters spoke to healthcare providers in the region who believe the ailments are linked to toxic chemicals that were released during a controlled burn after the train derailed. One of those chemicals was vinyl chloride, a carcinogen. 

Deborah Weese, APRN, a nurse practitioner at an urgent care clinic close to East Palestine, has been seeing between five and 10 people per day 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 told NBC.

Meanwhile, James Kravec, MD, chief clinical officer for Cincinnati-based Mercy Health, which includes a primary care office in East Palestine and a nearby hospital, said the system has seen more patients from East Palestine in the past few weeks than it has over the last few months. 

The Environmental Protection Agency maintains no air quality hazards have been detected and that municipal drinking water is safe. The CDC has sent a team of 19 epidemiologists and health scientists to assess potential health risks and conduct resident interviews. 

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