Will The Ohio Derailment Affect My Water Supply?

Authorities in East Palestine slowly released the vinyl chloride from five train cars and set them on fire to eliminate the highly flammable, toxic chemicals. The resulting explosion created a dark plume of smoke over the Ohio River and released hydrogen chloride and phospene, a toxic gas, into the air. Considering recent events in East Palestine, OH, you should take precautions to protect your water and air quality. The Vinyl Chloride was burned off in order to release the chemical from the train cars. However, because it is a manufactured colorless gas, it can raise the risk of liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma). It also raises the risk of primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.

Exposed to Vinyl Chloride through Air

Workers at facilities are exposed primarily through inhalation where vinyl chloride is produced. The general population can be exposed by inhaling contaminated air or tobacco smoke. In the environment, the highest levels of Vinyl Chloride are found in the air surrounding factories that produce vinyl products. If a water supply is contaminated, vinyl chloride may enter the air as you use water for showering, cooking, or laundry.

Its odor threshold is too high to adequately warn of hazardous concentrations. The odor of vinyl chloride becomes detectable at around 3,000 ppm. OSHA’s “Permissible Exposure Limits” is one ppm (8-hour TWA). Workers are often overexposed to vinyl chloride prior to knowing. A 5-minute exposure to airborne concentrations of 8,000 ppm can cause dizziness. As airborne levels increase to 20,000 ppm, effects include drowsiness, loss of coordination, visual and auditory abnormalities, disorientation, nausea, headache, and burning or tingling of the extremities. Exposure to higher concentrations of vinyl chloride for longer durations can cause death. This is due to its effect on an individual’s central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory depression. The gas is heavier than air and can cause asphyxiation in poorly ventilated or enclosed spaces.

Exposure to Vinyl Chloride through Water

Louisiana Residents take note the Ohio River empties into the Mississippi River.  The drinking water source for Orleans, Jefferson, St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and St. Charles Parishes. It is unknown if the river is contaminated enough to affect water in the Mississippi. However, some level of contamination is guaranteed.

When vinyl chloride is released into the air, the water supply is contaminated. Showering, bathing, or cooking can release vinyl chloride into the air. Although the skin does not easily absorb vinyl chloride, it may affect your breathing. Finally, drinking contaminated water can also expose you to vinyl chloride. People may begin to taste vinyl chloride in water at 3,400 parts per billion (ppb).

Free Water Analysis

To learn more about protecting your family from these contaminants, contact Torres Water Company at 504-838-8345. We offer a Free Water Analysis to ensure your water is safe.