In the February 25th Vox.com article, People living near the Ohio train derailment will have to watch their health for years featured a quote from PRCCEH Center Deputy Director Dr. Marilyn Howarth. Here is an excerpt:
“Each of the chemicals that leaked are respiratory irritants, and some of their breakdown products are also irritants,” said Marilyn Howarth, an environmental toxicologist at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in an email. “This is part of what is unclear: How much of each was experienced by each person and for how long?”
Occupational health researchers have found that workers who are regularly exposed to chemicals like vinyl chloride have higher rates of liver cancer. It’s a signal that can take 20 years or more to emerge, Howarth said. However, these workers were exposed to higher doses and in enclosed spaces, unlike the residents of East Palestine. It’s not clear how exposures from the train derailment will play out, but the long latency of vinyl chloride’s worst effects means that it’s critical to track its concentrations in the community for years to come.