CDC Investigators Who've Been Studying Health Effects of Ohio Train Derailment Get Sick With Matching Symptoms
They were going house-to-house.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, spilling hundreds of thousands of pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. In the months since, a massive cleanup operation has been underway, with state and federal officials insisting to East Palestine residents that chemicals linked to the derailment have not been detected in the air or drinking water at levels that would be a threat to human health. However, recently it was revealed that investigators from the Centers for Disease of Control experienced symptoms mirroring chemical exposure while studying the health impacts of the train derailment.
CDC Investigators Experienced Symptoms
The CDC announced on Thursday that seven investigators "briefly fell ill" in early March. Symptoms included sore throats, headaches, coughing, and nausea – similar symptoms to those reported by residents of East Palestine.
At the time, the teams were going house-to-house in the area around the derailment, surveying any potential chemical exposure. They immediately reported their symptoms to federal safety officers.
Symptoms Quickly Went Away
"Symptoms resolved for most team members later the same afternoon, and everyone resumed work on survey data collection within 24 hours. Impacted team members have not reported ongoing health effects," a CDC spokesperson said in a statement to CNN.
While it isn't clear what caused their symptoms, some of the group, which includes officers and physicians in the CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service, suspect it has to do with chemical exposure due to the fact that they all became ill at the same time.
The incident was not publically reported because the symptoms were relieved after investigators left the area. However, CNN confirmed the incident with a CDC spokesperson.
The Symptoms Were the Same Ones They Were Investigating
The team was there investigating the same symptoms they started experiencing. There have been multiple reports of residents in the East Palestine area experiencing symptoms, including headaches, sore throats, nasal congestion, bloody noses, skin rashes, coughs, and eye irritation.
In February, two EPA contractors also working around the East Palestine crash area reported symptoms linked to strong odors. They were told to leave the area, and their symptoms eased, so they went back to work at the site the same day.
More Than Half of Those Surveyed Have Experienced Symptoms
So far, more than half of the 514 residents who have taken it so far have experienced symptoms after the derailment, according to the Ohio ACE survey, per the Ohio Department of Health. Headaches were reported by 74% of people taking the survey; anxiety (61%); coughing (53%); fatigue (53%); pain, irritation or burning of the skin (50%); and stuffy nose/sinus congestion (50%).