EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WKBN) – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) hosted a meeting Thursday night to discuss public health needs and research after the February Norfolk Southern train derailment.
During the meeting, residents talked about health concerns they are experiencing while members of federal agencies laid out plans for testing, some of which could last years for monitoring.
Dr. Aubrey Miller works for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and says they are partnering up with other independent groups for part of their research.
“We have specifically engaged with the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine,” explained Dr. Miller.
Established in 1863, the National Academies were created to be an independent, objective voice to help create national policy. They have helped in other disasters like the 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill. They are tasked with creating a workshop.
Officials are asking anyone who lives in Columbiana County or a county that touches Columbiana County to fill out a survey about health effects.
Dr. Erin Haynes from the University of Kentucky (UK) is spearheading that research and says that’s only the first step. Those who participate in the survey might be asked if they want to do further testing. UK is working in partnership with the EPA and NIH.
“Following the survey is to invite just a small handful — maybe 20 — to have urine and blood drawn,” said Dr. Haynes.
Dr. Haynes anticipates the blood work and urine sampling to happen in July. She says it will help determine if they should expand their research radius.
“We’re going to invite some, about 100, to wear a wristband that can absorb some chemicals from the environment and that can be analyzed,” said Dr. Haynes.
The bracelets would be worn for a week and will help determine day-to-day exposure to toxins.
If you would like to participate in the survey, click here. You must live in Columbiana, Mahoning, Stark, Carroll, Jefferson, Lawrence, Hancock or Beaver counties.