R21-UKY East Palestine Train Derailment Health Tracking Study

Grants and Contracts Details


Project Summary/Abstract On February 3, 2023, 38 cars on a railroad train carrying hazardous chemicals, including vinyl chloride, derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, a community of 4,700 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Several hazardous chemicals that were released from the train cars are associated with adverse health effects, including dizziness, fatigue, numbness, eye irritation, throat irritation, and cancer. Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Norfolk Southern have collected and analyzed samples of air, water, and soil, additional data is needed to characterize the extent and composition of this contamination. Residents were evacuated and have since been told it is safe to return home. However, they are reporting health effects such as difficulty breathing, and eye and skin irritation that they associate with the spill. In addition, the distance travelled by the plume that resulted from the chemical spill and subsequent burning of toxic chemicals, as well as the enumeration of the affected are unknown. Therefore, a longitudinal investigation of exposures and health impacts within the affected populations is needed. In this study, we propose that we will partner with the residents of East Palestine and its surrounding area to address their exposure, health, and communication strategies and tools through collaborative research. Furthermore, we will seek to identify toxicants that are associated with the derailment and investigate the impact on public health to mitigate adverse health outcomes. To do this, we will 1) identify research priority needs of the community, 2) assess the exposed population for a potential enrollment into long-term epidemiologic research studies by conducting an online community-wide survey, and 3) create community-friendly research communication strategies and tools. It is anticipated that we will provide a framework for facilitating community-engaged research for disaster response, potentially leading to critical steps in establishing strategies for community-science connection and communication.
Effective start/end date1/23/2412/31/25


  • National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: $221,953.00


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