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Independent air testing shows parts of East Palestine have increased levels of some chemicals

In particular, Texas A&M researchers say they observed increased levels of acrolein, which has the potential to cause long-term health problems.

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio — New information from a Texas A&M research report that sampled air quality in East Palestine shows some chemical levels were three times higher than in other cities.

Just how contaminated the air, water, and soil in the village are remains a hot topic of conversation.

"We have a plan," Norfolk Southern official Darrell Wilson told residents at a Thursday townhall.

"Fix it!" residents shouted back in angst.

In collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University, the Texas A&M Superfund Research Center conducted independent air testing on Feb. 21 and 22, collecting data by circling the streets. The study compared air quality in east Palestine to that of downtown Pittsburgh, researchers said.

"There are levels that are levels well below Pittsburgh and well above Pittsburgh," the center's Deputy Director Weihsueh Chiu explained.

According to the report shared on Twitter, the data researchers collected agrees with EPA results for benzene and vinyl chloride.

However, the chemical that remains of concern to researchers is acrolein, because of its potential for long-term health effects. Acrolein can be a nasal and respiratory irritant, according to experts.

A map in the analysis shows a breakdown of acrolein levels across East Palesint, with levels of the chemical ranging from five times lower and three times higher than Pittsburgh.

"Obviously, this is a rural area," Chiu said, "so you would expect the concentration to be lower than Pittsburgh."

Tension continues among those in the village as many complain of health and financial impacts one month since the derailment. At the townhall Thursday night with federal, state, and Norfolk Southern officials, residents continued to sound off about their frustrations.

"I am stuck," an East Palestine resident told those in attendance. "No is coming to save us."

But the Texas A&M researchers say the symptoms people in East Palestine are experiencing and reporting can't necessarily be attributed to acrolein alone. Gov. Mike DeWine's office sent out a list Friday detailing the most common health issues reported, including headaches, coughing, and skin irritation.

Researchers told 3News they're analyzing "non-targeted data" that might help identity any other chemicals that aren't yet being monitored.


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