Dr Edward Boyer: Immediate and Long-term Respiratory Effects of the Ohio Train Derailment

Edward W. Boyer, MD, PhD, medical toxicologist, The Ohio State University, discusses respiratory health risks associated with chemical exposure after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Immediate and long-term repsiratory health risks of the Ohio train derailment are going to be individualized, and will not effect everyone, says Edward Boyer, MD, PhD, medical toxicologist, emergency medicine physician, and professor of emergency medicine at The Ohio State University.


What are the immediate and long-term health risks associated with exposure to the chemicals vinyl chloride and butyl acrylate?

The immediate health risks are pretty benign. I mean, you can have a little bit of respiratory irritation from chemical exposure that is going to be, I think, predominantly individualized; it won't necessarily affect everybody at low concentrations. But the immediate effects are going to be respiratory, maybe shortness of breath, maybe some cough, as well as dermal exposure if there was contact on the skin—that can manifest as a rash.

But long-term exposure for vinyl chloride, though, is much better defined. It's a known cause of specific types of cancers; specifically, sarcomas of the liver and other liver neoplasms. There's not much described about butyl acrylate long-term exposure. And like I said, for vinyl chloride, the long-term exposure is predominantly related to liver effects, cancers of the liver.

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