EAST PALESTINE – University of Kentucky College of Public Health environmental scientist Dr. Erin Haynes the second phase of a health study to track the epidemiological effects on residents after the February train derailment and release of noxious chemicals by distributing wristbands designed to monitor air quality to about 80 local participants on Sunday.
In addition to those who volunteered to wear the wristbands, 20 residents will participate in a blood draw, which will test for toxins including dioxins.
Haynes, chairman of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health and at the College of Public Health and who contacted residents for the first time almost during a public health session held June 1 at the Way Station, brought a team to East Palestine Sunday to expand the East Palestine Train Derailment Health Study that began tracking the health effects of the derailment in early spring. The first phase of the study was an online survey open to anyone 18 years of age or older in Columbiana, Mahoning, Stark, Carroll and Jefferson counties in Ohio and residents of Beaver and Lawrence counties in Pennsylvania and Hancock County in West Virginia.
During the public health session on June 1, Haynes said the next step is to monitor chemical exposure through the wristbands. Participants are asked to wear silicone wristbands, which can absorb chemicals from the environment, for seven days. The narrow bands are from the Human Health Exposure Analysis Resource (HHEAR). Dr. Heather Stapleton’s lab at Duke University will analyze them for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and chlorinated dioxins.
During the biological sample collection, approximately three tablespoons of blood will be drawn. Participants will also provide a urine sample. The purpose of the sampling is to assess whether rail-related chemicals can be measured in urine and blood.
“We’ll be looking for potential biomarkers to reveal this small subset and that will tell us if we need to go further and do a broader study,” Haynes said during the health session. “I’m excited in a comprehensive way so we can give you answers. I know individuals (have been tested for biomarkers) but I want to see what it looks like in a group and according to the survey.”
Blood samples will be analyzed for immune, kidney and liver function and to determine if there are measurable levels of dioxins in the body. Urine samples will be examined for metabolites of vinyl chloride, metabolites of acrolein, butyl acrylamide and 2-ethylhexyl acrylate.
Haynes asked the CDC to do the dioxin analysis, and Dr. Ilhem Messaoudi, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, measures immune function.
Liver and kidney function will be measured by the University of Kentucky Health Care laboratory.
In addition to the biological samples from residents, four staff members of the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Research Center in Environmental Science who are on site in East Palestine will collect their own urine samples when they arrive and right before they leave the village to determine whether their urine. urine has pre- and post-measurable levels of chemicals associated with rails.
The study, funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Science and not affiliated with Norfolk Southern or the Environmental Protection Agency, is in preparation for a much larger long-term health study in East Palestine.
“We’ve been here for a long time. I don’t want to let you go until you know what the potential exposures are and what the health outcomes may be for you now and in the future,” Haynes said.