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 substantial 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. Although the Vinyl Chloride that was burned off to release the chemical from the train cars, it is a manufactured colorless gas that can raise the risk of a rare form of liver cancer (hepatic angiosarcoma), and primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma), brain and lung cancers, lymphoma, and leukemia.

How are people exposed to Vinyl Chloride? 

Workers at facilities where vinyl chloride is produced may be exposed primarily through inhalation. The general population may be exposed by inhaling contaminated air or tobacco smoke. In the environment, the highest levels of Vinyl Chloride are found in the air around factories that produce vinyl products. If a water supply is contaminated, vinyl chloride may enter the household 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, and OSHA’s “Permissible Exposure Limits” is one ppm (8-hour TWA). Workers can be overexposed to vinyl chloride without being aware of its presence. A 5-minute exposure to airborne concentrations of 8,000 ppm can cause dizziness. As airborne levels increase to 20,000 ppm, effects can 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 due to central nervous system (CNS) and respiratory depression. The gas is heavier than air and can cause asphyxiation in poorly ventilated or enclosed spaces.

How can you be exposed 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.

If your water supply is contaminated, showering, bathing, or cooking with the water can release vinyl chloride into the air where you can breathe it. 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). The skin does not easily absorb vinyl chloride.

Free Water Analysis

To learn more about protecting your family from these contaminants, contact Torres Water Company at 504-838-8345.