Government Researchers Fall Sick During Visit to East Palestine Spill

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April 3, 2023

Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention visiting East Palestine, Ohio, reported falling sick last month, weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency declared the town safe.

Seven CDC researchers conducting a chemical exposure assessment in East Palestine following the Feb. 3 train derailment and chemical leak reported symptoms, such as headaches and coughing, similar to those experienced by residents of the town, CNN reported.

"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.

The researchers’ reports of illness came weeks after Biden administration officials declared the town's air and water safe. 

"We are confident that if your home has been tested and you've been given the green light, the air is safe," EPA administrator Michael Regan told Good Morning America in February.

The researchers’ symptoms mirror the reported experiences of more than half of the Ohio residents surveyed so far in the CDC investigation.

President Joe Biden has yet to visit East Palestine despite saying earlier this month that he would make the trip "at some point." The president instead visited Ukraine following the February train disaster, drawing the ire of Republican lawmakers.

"No time to visit East Palestine but plenty of time for this," wrote Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) on Twitter.

The Environmental Protection Agency, along with the Norfolk Southern Corporation whose train derailed, late last month declared confidence that "the air quality [in Ohio and Pennsylvania] is safe, and that the health of residents continues to be protected."

Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg faced criticism for waiting nearly three weeks to visit East Palestine following the train derailment, with over half of voters saying Buttigieg should quit his post.

Published under: CDC , Ohio