(NewsNation) — Residents in East Palestine, Ohio, continue to complain about headaches and respiratory symptoms following the train derailment on Feb. 3, in which toxic chemicals were burned off into the air. Doctors now warn these symptoms could lead to long-term health problems, including cancer.
“This is a long-term situation that’s going to have to be monitored for not one year, not ten years, but decades,” said Dr. Corey Hebert during “NewsNation Live” on Monday. “These long-term situations can also lead to cancer, as well as other very serious autoimmune problems.”
Environmental regulators continue to monitor water and air quality, offering testing services to those who request them. Days after the accident, authorities burned vinyl chloride inside five tanker cars, sending hydrogen chloride and the toxic gas phosgene into the air. The controlled burn was said to be preferable to the threat of a larger explosion if nothing was done.
Hebert also added mental health problems are part of the long-term impacts area residents could feel. He discussed with NewsNation’s Marni Hughes how the situation on the ground in East Palestine could lead to increased levels of anxiety and depression.
The Environmental Protection Agency along with local, state and federal agencies have repeatedly told residents near the train derailment site it is safe to return home, but many are refusing because of persistent symptoms and fears of what might be causing those symptoms.
Despite those assurances and a bevy of news conferences and visits from politicians — including last week from U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and former President Donald Trump — many residents still express a sense of mistrust or have lingering questions about what they have been exposed to and how it will impact the future of their families and their communities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.