‘Chemical Bronchitis’? East Palestine Residents Experiencing Painful Breathing, Rashes, Weakness

Olivia Holley, 22, and Taylor Gulish, 22, put PPE on before collecting water samples from
Michael Swensen/Getty Images

Residents of East Palestine, Ohio, are experiencing unusual symptoms — which one healthcare worker called “chemical bronchitis” — following a train derailment earlier this month, which spewed toxic chemicals into the environment.

Local healthcare workers are seeing an influx of people from the East Palestine area that are complaining they don’t feel well, according to a report by WKBN.

QUICKmed Urgent Care workers told the outlet that they are seeing patients report similar symptoms, such as feeling a burning sensation when they breathe, rashes, and general feelings of weakness.

Some East Palestine residents have even said that they begin to feel better when they leave town for a while, only to feel bad one again after they return home.

“This could be a lot of things, but if you’re leaving your house and [symptoms] improve, and you go back and it comes back, I’m not thinking that’s allergies or not thinking it’s a cold,” QUICKmed’s Deb Weese told WKBN. “I think it’s related to that stuff you’re inhaling there.”

Weese added that the burning sensation when breathing could be a form of “chemical bronchitis.”

“Let’s face it: If it comes down to it, it might be something in the future that comes about from all these chemicals they’re breathing in that we don’t know about, so it’s important that they document all of their symptoms,” she said.

Meanwhile, the cleanup efforts continue from the train derailment, which the Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates killed more than 43,000 fish and other aquatic animals.

On February 3, a train operated by Norfolk Southern derailed and spilled toxic chemicals into the environment, sparking a fire.

Cleanup crews ended up igniting five train cars to get rid of toxic chemicals in a controlled environment, which created a menacing plume of thick smoke that resembled a mushroom cloud. Images of the controlled detonation were later circulated on social media, sparking concerns around the nation.

While East Palestine residents who were ordered to evacuate have since been told it is safe to return home — and even drink the water — many remain very concerned.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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