The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told residents near the toxic train derailment in eastern Ohio that it is safe to return home, but residents are alarmed and have concerns, as fish in local bodies of water are dying.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources will still need to evaluate what caused the fish to die, which could take up to a month.
A 50-car train derailment on February 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, included 10 cars carrying hazardous materials. Authorities decided the best thing to do was burn off the chemicals in five of those cars, releasing hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air. They said this was preferable to a potential explosion.
Though vinyl chloride is a carcinogen, its worst effects have generally been documented after long-term or high-volume exposure, according to federal reports.
Residents are complaining of headaches and feeling sick.
Authorities have claimed it is safe for evacuated residents to return to their homes, but one resident says the pungent odor that reminds her of a mixture of nail polish remover and burning tires tells her otherwise.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that breathing the gas over long periods of time could be connected to brain, lung, and blood cancers.
It’s been recommended to get a baseline health exam for future complications.