New release data Shows soil in a town in East Palestine, Ohio – site of a recent catastrophic train crash and chemical spill – hundreds more than the exposure threshold exceeded by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists in 2010 Contains twice as high dioxin levels. Poses found risk cancer.
EPA at the time Proposed The cleanup threshold was lowered to reflect the science on highly toxic chemicals, but the Obama administration scrapped the rule and the higher federal action threshold remains in place.
Dioxin concentrations in eastern Palestine are below federal action standards, and EPA administrators told Congress last week that levels were “very low,” including former EPA officials who reviewed the Guardian’s data. Chemistry experts said they were “concerned”.
Levels found in the two soil samples were up to 14 times higher than soil limits for dioxin in some states, a figure that indicates more widespread contamination, said former director of the U.S. National Toxicology Program. EPA scientist Linda Birnbaum said.
“We have confirmed that dioxin is in the soil of East Palestine, although the levels are not high,” she said. “EPA should test soils in the area more extensively.”
The data likely supports concerns that the controlled burning of vinyl chloride in the days after the train crash in the town produced dioxins, which spread throughout the region, experts said. However, he emphasized that the value of the new data is limited, as only two soil samples were detected. already checked.
A train crash in East Palestine and its toxic aftermath has become a major issue in the United States, with locals and activists blaming a lack of action by both the government and rail operator Norfolk Southern.Ohio State now sues railroad giant Derailmentcalling it one of a “long series” of incidents involving the company.
Dioxins are a class of chemicals that are by-products produced when chlorine is burned, a common industrial process that makes products such as PVC.
Chemicals are highly persistent and can accumulate and remain in the environment and the human body for years. Among other health problems, the compound has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, nervous system disorders, and other serious health problems. Soil and food contamination is considered one of the most common routes of exposure.
After resisting calls to test for dioxins for weeks, the EPA announced on March 3 that it would order Norfolk Southern to do so. Separately, Indiana Last week, it commissioned tests of soil in Eastern Palestine because one of the state’s landfills stores it. The tests were conducted by what Birnbaum characterized as a reputable laboratory.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Said Levels found in the soil were “not harmful.” Meanwhile, EPA regional administrator Debra Shore said in congressional testimony on March 9 that dioxin levels found in Indiana were “very low.” , characterized it as “good news”.
But while the EPA can claim levels are “low” from a legal standpoint, EPA’s own science suggests they’re unsafe, and dioxin experts who spoke with The Guardian said It casts doubt on Shore and Holcomb’s assessment.
Regulators determine the toxicity of dioxins in soil samples by calculating the “toxic equivalence” of all dioxins in soil compared to the most toxic dioxin compounds called 2,3,7,8 TCDD. establish. Soils from Eastern Palestine showed ‘2, 3, 7, 8 TCDD toxicity equivalent’ levels of 700 ppt. The level at which EPA initiates cleanup efforts in residential areas is 1,000 ppt.
Carsten Prasse, an organic chemist at Johns Hopkins University and SimpleLab’s scientific advisor, said, “Based on this, concentrations are a real concern. The 1,000 ppt federal cleanup standard applies. Ohio.
Additionally, EPA scientists set the cancer risk threshold for dioxin in residential soil at 3.7 ppt in 2010, and the EPA recommended lowering the cleanup trigger to 72 ppt.
“If you do the numbers and you do state-of-the-art risk calculations, you get cancer risk numbers,” said Stephen Lester, a toxicologist who has studied dioxins for 40 years and scientific director at the Institute for Science. I’m here.Center health, environment and justice. “This is why dioxin is said to be one of the most toxic chemicals ever made.”
Lester said the rule was eventually scrapped “for political reasons.” That level of exposure to dioxin is likely widespread, he added, and any changes would create fallout that would be very difficult for the government to control.
“Instead of adjusting for the high risk of these chemicals, they stopped doing it and just walked away. That’s the crazy part of the story,” Lester said. You can legally argue that East Palestine’s levels are safe, even if the agency’s science suggests otherwise.
The EPA did not respond to specific questions from the Guardian, but in a statement the EPA doubled its rating.
“The available data, analyzed and verified by an independent laboratory, indicates that waste from Eastern Palestine sent to Indiana does not contain harmful levels of dioxins,” said a spokeswoman. is writing
Experts also say that while this level may be safe for Indiana’s purposes of storing toxic waste in landfills, it is unsafe in the context of public exposure to chemicals around the crash site. I warned you of the possibility.
It’s also unclear where and at what depth the samples were taken, all of which are related to potential health risks in East Palestine, Plasse said. The chemicals would pose a particular risk to children playing in dusty or yards or outside, he added.
“My main concern is, does this reflect the levels in the region of Eastern Palestine…and the levels that people living near the railroad are exposed to?” Prasse said. “I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable living there.”
Furthermore, if the soil that Indiana tested was brought to the state by truck or train, it would be mixed with other soils, possibly diluted, making the soil look safer than it really was, hiding hot spots in the ground. There is a possibility that it will be, Birnbaum said.
She noted that the results revealed a wide range of dioxins. Dioxins are often present at low levels throughout the environment, especially in industrial areas like East Palestine, Background Her profile is usually limited to low levels of dioxins, Birnbaum said. increase.
In 1980, the EPA evacuation In Times Beach, Missouri, dioxin levels in excess of 1,000 ppt were found in soil after chemicals were sprayed on town roads to prevent the spread of dust.
Experts who have begun reviewing Norfolk Southern’s plans for dioxin testing have already expressed concerns about its design, saying the EPA may fear a Times Beach relapse.
“What people in this area really need to know to be safe is where the dioxin came from, where the wind carried it, where it deposited, and where the high levels were. That’s it,” Birnbaum said.
https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/mar/17/norfolk-southern-derailment-east-palestine-ohio-carcinogenic-chemical-levels Levels of carcinogenic chemicals near derailment site in Ohio well above safe limits Ohio train derailment