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All Clear in East Palestine? Half the CDC Team That Investigated Train Derailment Got Mystery Illness

The East Palestine, Ohio community impacted by a chemical spill in the wake of a Norfolk Southern train derailment on February 3 has been reassured countless times by authorities that the air and water in the area is “safe.”

But a new report that the investigative team deployed by the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to survey the scene suggests that there may be lingering ecological damage near the train derailment site.

According to the CDC, nearly half of the investigators became sick while researching the possible health impacts of the toxic chemical spill.  Seven of the fifteen team members that conducted house-to-house surveys became ill and displayed symptoms that included sore throats, mild headaches, coughing and nausea.

An official familiar with the cases told CNN the team, some of whom work for the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, found it suspicious that “they became ill at the same time and with the same symptoms.”

The CDC added that team members resumed data collection within 24 hours, and “impacted team members have not reported ongoing health effects.”

“Symptoms resolved for most team members later the same afternoon, and everyone resumed work on survey data collection within 24 hours,” a CDC rep said in a statement to CNN.

As CBS News reported, “the illnesses are coming to light after repeated assurances by government officials and representatives from Norfolk Southern, the company that operated the train, that the air and drinking water in East Palestine is not hazardous to health.”

“Since Feb. 8, when the burning railcars were finally extinguished, state and federal officials have consistently told East Palestine residents that they have not detected any chemicals linked to the derailment in air or drinking water at levels that would threaten human health,” the report added. “Yet people living in East Palestine and the surrounding area have continued to share stories about unexplained symptoms including headaches, sore throats, nasal congestion, bloody noses, skin rashes, coughs and eye irritation.”

“It adds confirmation that the symptoms reported by East Palestine residents are real and are associated with environmental exposures from the derailment and chemical fire,” David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor who ran OSHA from 2009 to 2017 told CBS News.

The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern Railway Company on Thursday. The Environmental Protection Agency is seeking to hold Norfolk Southern accountable for all damages under the Clean Water Act.


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