US Citizens Affected by Numerous Chemical Incidents

In the USA, accidents related to hazardous chemicals have become increasingly common and disastrous, with reports stating that “In the first seven weeks of 2023 alone, there were more than 30 incidents recorded by the Coalition to Prevent Chemical Disasters, roughly one every day and a half. Last year the coalition recorded 188, up from 177 in 2021. The group has tallied more than 470 incidents since it started counting in April 2020.”

These occurrences are not limited to one area, as they have been recently transpiring in Ohio, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and numerous other locations, all varying in the severity of their incidents.

One of the most notable incidents is the derailment and ignition of a Norfolk Southern Railway train on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, releasing various toxic chemicals into the air, ground, and water.

Some of the most prominent chemicals were vinyl chloride, which can lead to headaches, dizziness, and liver cancer, and butyl acrylate, which can lead to eye, skin, and nose irritation as well as nausea. Additionally, ethyl hexyl acrylate, linked to skin, eye, and respiratory irritation, and ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, which irritates the eyes and nose and causes nausea, headaches, dizziness, and vomiting, were also released in the crash.

Residents were evacuated, and upon their return, were advised to drink bottled water and to test private wells for any chemicals. They have since reported various symptoms such as headaches, nausea, and irritation since the incident. However, the citizens surrounding the Ohio-Pennsylvania border are not the only ones who have been affected, around 3,500 fish in local waterways died as a result of the chemicals released.

In Belle Glade, Florida, a chemical leak led to the hospitalization of around nine individuals, as well as the lockdown of Belle Glade Elementary School and Lake Shore Middle School. The chemical released on March 29 was chlorine dioxide, which can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and lungs.

On March 30, a BNSF train carrying ethanol and corn syrup derailed in Raymond, Minnesota. Ethanol can cause irritation, headaches, nausea, vomiting, and unconsciousness, and the release of this chemical led to the evacuation of nearby residents.

AP News reports that “Walz and railroad officials said they aren’t especially concerned about groundwater contamination from the latest derailment because much of the ethanol will burn off and the ground remains frozen. Plus, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says pure ethanol is biodegradable and breaks down into harmless substances if spilled.”

Residents were able to return to their homes after evacuating later that day.

Citizens around the US are being affected by the numerous chemical incidents that have been occurring, being posed with various health concerns, and experiencing the challenge of determining what to do after being abruptly evacuated from their homes.