The Train Derailment: Columbiana County in a Humanitarian Crisis & the “Poison Plastic” that Haunts them.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), dubbed the “The Poison Plastic” by Greenpeace, has been leaked following a horrific train derailment in the charming city of East Palestine, Ohio. PVC, otherwise simply known as Vinyl, is a very common chemical used in an array of products. Generally, the finish products that are in products sold in stores are considered safe but in its unadulterated form, and at its very fundament PVC is one of the most toxic substances on Earth. PVC is ranked as the third most produced artificial polymer of a plastic in the world today. Estimates of yearly production were around 40 million tons but as continuous manufacturing of the harmful agent steadily increases, the most recent (2020) figures claim over 54 million tons are produced annually around the world! While there were multiple dangerous chemicals involved in the derailment PVC sticks out because its threat to humanity is one of supreme significance.

PVC is often divided into two main subgroups:

-Rigid PVC that is commonly used in plumbing and construction


-Softened PVC- Softened PVC is made to be more flexible and malleable with the additive of ‘plasticizers.’ Of which, the endocrine disrupting chemicals known as phthalates are the most commonly used.

The production of PVC relies on a highly toxic chemical called vinyl chloride monomer (VCM), which is derived from fossil fuel processing. Furthermore, like the “controlled burn” conducted by the currier shipping company responsible for the crisis, Norfolk Southern, the disposal of PVC presents significant risks to human health as it does not biodegrade and can take hundreds of years to break down, leading to a buildup of toxic chemicals in the environment. So why does such an ominous chemical even exist? The answer is simple, money. The industry is worth an estimated $57 billion annually.

According to a recent article at

“Citizens in E. Palestine, a town of approximately 4700 people, were advised to evacuate immediately. The Norfolk Southern train was allegedly carrying 100,000 gallons of vinyl chloride. According to the American Chemical Society, safety officials, “[i]n an effort to avoid an explosion, railroad, and state authorities began a controlled release and burn of the vinyl chloride Feb. 6. Earlier that day, the governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania ordered an immediate evacuation of a 1- by 2-mile area that crossed the state line.”

Although, East Palestine marks the epicenter of the humanitarian/ecological crisis we must keep our minds and our hearts the nearby neighboring cities and states as well.

Here are the top 11 cities, in order of closest to furthest, that are within 10 miles of East Palestine, Ohio that should also be taking protective measures against the harmful chemicals released following the derailment:

1.         Negley, OH

2.         New Waterford, OH

3.         Rogers, OH

4.         Columbiana, OH

5.         Elkton, OH

6.         Darlington, PA

7.         West Point, OH

8.         New Galilee, PA

9.         Enon Valley, PA

10.       Washingtonville, OH

11.       Lisbon, Ohio

Brief Insight into the Health Risks:

PVC has been linked to various health effects, ranging from short-term to long-term effects. Studies have shown that short-term exposure to PVC can cause respiratory problems, such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Long-term exposure has been linked to more severe health effects, such as cancer, developmental disorders, and endocrine disruption. Studies on animals have also linked PVC to a range of adverse health effects. For instance, a study conducted on rats found that exposure to PVC led to developmental disorders and liver damage.

Compared to other toxic chemicals, PVC is considered to be one of the most dangerous due to its widespread use and the potential for human exposure. In one study, men who worked in PVC plants had 6X higher risk for testicular cancer than the average man. Not only does PVC fall into the realm of being an aggressive “forever chemical” but it in its manufactured form is one of the least recyclable compounds around, with under 3% of PVC ever being recycled. The excess PVC then builds up and is either buried in the earth to brew in a landfill, seeping into ground water, or it is incinerated. 

Burning PVC results in horrific consequences because it releases one of the most dangerous chemicals known to man, Dioxin. Most of all air pollution that is from burning PVC is purely Dioxin.

So, while Norfolk Southern’s control burn in the mainstream media might look like a fastidious response to mitigating further risk, it is clear that it was anything but. The so-called “controlled burn” once PVC is even lightly investigated, goes from a decent mitigation tactic, to essentially the equivalent to a criminal burning down a house where they’d just shot someone. It was nothing more than an attempt to “get rid of the issue” as quickly as possible.

Criminal charges, if there is justice in the world, should be pursued against the people of Norfolk Southern. (Norfolk Southern reportedly tried offering the locals of East Palestine a $1,000 cash bribe to forgive and forget their failure to do anything remotely remedial!)  I say this because there is NO acceptable level of Dioxin for humans. Like it’s parent compound, PVC, causes, immune damage, hormone damage, and even birth defects. Not to mention the plethora of other compounds from the leak and their massive health implication. Add all of that to these next factors and you’ll see this is truly a humanitarian crisis, the likes of which will surely ruin the lives of countless American’s that live in the heart of our country:

Additional Factors to consider:

-All time high inflation. Making recovery efforts and expenses impossible for some families.

-The lasting effects of coming out of a 3-year respiratory pandemic that damaged lungs and health.

-The continuation of 8.9-9 million deaths globally already attributed to air pollution.

-The overwhelming neglect of our government’s responsibility to the citizens of the country in times of crisis.

Before diving any further into this tragedy, I want to stress the importance of helping your fellow American, by supporting any relief efforts for Columbiana County in Ohio. Send assistance. Send prayers. Send letters demanding action to Norfolk Southern and to lawmakers and send a helping hand and love to those effected by this if you can.

Examples of people who have been affected:

There have been several cases of people who have been affected by exposure to PVC. For instance, in 2014, a study found that children who lived near a PVC production facility in Louisiana had higher rates of cancer and other health problems than children who lived further away. In another case, in 2015, workers at a PVC production facility in India were found to have high rates of respiratory problems and skin irritation.

Solutions for avoiding PVC exposure:

Consumers can also take steps to reduce exposure, such as not burning PVC products, using water filters, and wearing protective gear (PPE) when handling PVC products.  A recent episode of The HighWire hosted by  documentarist and renowned journalist, Del Bigtree (  sought the advice of two OSHA experts, Tammy Clark and Kristen Meghan Kelly, that gave vital advice specifically for the residents of and around East Palestine, Ohio.

Exposure to PVC is well documented and undoubtedly hazardous. Inhaling PVC fumes or dust can cause respiratory problems, such as coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. Due to this it is my personal advice to change the filters in your home filtration system with HEPA filters, as often as you can-daily, if possible. Also acquiring HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners would be beneficial to reduce exposures in households in and around East Palestine. Long-term exposure has been linked to more severe health effects, such as cancer, developmental disorders, and as mentioned before, endocrine disruption.

Moreso, PVC exposure has been linked to reproductive, neurological damage, and even death. Furthermore, children are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of PVC due to their developing bodies and systems. The heightened risks are also applied to pregnant women, those with COPD, existing cancers, asthma, and adults of childbearing age who wish to have children in the future.

Governments and regulatory agencies should play a role in reducing further exposure by enforcing regulations and monitoring the production and use of PVC as well as calling on agencies like the EPA and FEMA for assistance to families and efforts to contain the leakage and fumes but at the moment this appears to be yet another massive failure on behalf of the government and the mainstream media as they’ve failed to respond in any promising fashion.

With the Ohio derailment this crisis is not only close to home for most American’s but actually is home to thousands of exposed Ohioans and Pennsylvanians.


The East Palestine Train Derailment Disaster held many concerning and dangerous chemical compounds. The list below is the most concerning chemicals that were being transported and have now subsequently released in East Palestine, Ohio:

Vinyl chloride, Isobutylene, Benzene, Ethylhexyl acrylate, Ethylene glycol, and Monobutyl ether

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a permissible exposure limit of one part per million (ppm) of vinyl chloride, while the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has set a reference concentration (RfC) of 0.2 ppm. However, exposure to PVC can occur through various means, including inhalation, ingestion, and dermal contact. Those closest to the epicenter of the derailment are at higher risk of exposure but nearby areas are more than likely going to be adversely affected as well.

To get an idea of the immensity of PVC that was involved in the tragic derailment I’ve compiled comparison to quantities easier to grasp and envision. Here is a comparison of 100,000 gallons to the following  real-life amount of what was leaked in quantitative terms:

  • Swimming Pools: 100,000 gallons is roughly equivalent to the volume of 1.5 Olympic-sized swimming pools. An Olympic-sized swimming pool typically holds around 660,000 gallons of water.
  • Bath Tubs: 100,000 gallons is equivalent to the volume of about 1,333 standard-sized bath tubs. A standard-sized bath tub can hold around 75 gallons of water.
  • Two Gallon Milk Jugs: 100,000 gallons is equivalent to the volume of 50,000 two-gallon milk jugs.
  • 747 Fuel Tanks: 100,000 gallons is roughly equivalent to the fuel capacity of two Boeing 747 aircrafts. The fuel capacity of a 747 aircraft is approximately 50,000 gallons.