Residents living near the train derailment in New Palestine, OH, have become increasingly alarmed over the improper disposal of hazardous materials. The derailed cars contained a range of pollutants and carcinogens, including five cars full of vinyl chloride, which were set off in what authorities termed a “controlled explosion.”
These actions, while meant to protect people’s safety, may have potentially led to having the water contaminated. There is growing concern that the chemical wastes have leaked into nearby rivers or bodies of water, including the Ohio River, which feeds most of the watersheds throughout the Midwest. Thus, this is an ongoing situation for state officials as they strive to assess the situation and search for alternate, safer methods for disposing of these chemical contaminants that will not endanger the local community’s air or water supply.
Still, this chemical disaster is leading many busienss owners like yourself questioning the safety and validity of drinking water and tap water in the office. So, here is what Office H2O wants you to know about the situation and how we can help!
What is vinyl chloride?
Vinyl chloride is a manufactured substance used primarily in the plastics industry. It appears as a colorless gas and is often combined with Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) to make plastic products. Those exposed to high levels of vinyl chloride without proper protection can suffer adverse health effects, such as dizziness or fatigue.
Additionally, it has been linked to an increased risk of liver cancer, nerve damage, and respiratory problems. Governments have set strict limits on how much vinyl chloride can be released into the atmosphere to protect workers and the general population from exposure to this hazardous material.
How Harmful is vinyl chloride in Drinking Water?
Vinyl chloride is a chemical that does not appear naturally in nature and is produced indutrially for commercial use. Therefore, its presence can be extremely harmful over time. As a result, it’s often discovered in private wells, rivers, and streams, having leaked from its original place of production.
It’s possible to detect vinyl chloride in water by smelling it – if it has a sweet, Vinyl-like scent, it is likely to present. Animal studies have shown that when animals are exposed to vinyl chloride regularly, they can develop tumors and cancer in the organs of their bodies.
This knowledge makes it imperative to minimize human exposure to vinyl chloride in drinking water. You can do so by installing filtration systems or practice other methods for regularly monitoring the levels of Vinyl found in drinking water sources.
The Health Affects of Vinyl Chloride
Dizziness or Headache
Because vinyl chloride is a colorless, flammable gas mostly used to make plastic pipes and other building materials. It can cause dizziness or headaches when male workers are exposed to it either by drinking contaminated water or breathing contaminated air with too much exposure for an extended period.
Signs of such effects can be seen through fatigue, confusion, and in extreme cases, even loss of consciousness. Workers exposed must take the necessary precautions if working with vinyl chloride, typically wearing protective clothing and a mask or respirator to cover their mouth and nose. Those who feel they are being exposed to vinyl chloride should contact a doctor immediately.
Vinyl chloride has been determined to be a potential carcinogen, which can cause excess lifetime cancer risk to those exposed to it. Most cases of cancer caused by vinyl chloride exposure have been in the form of liver cancer, along with other rare forms, such as angiosarcoma. Studies have shown that continued and high levels of exposure to contaminated air, soil, and water can develop this form of cancer. It is for these reasons that many governments and organizations seek to regulate the usage of vinyl chloride.
Miscarriage and Birth Defects
Vinyl chloride exposure during pregnancy has been shown to have serious adverse health effects for pregnant women, with an increased risk of miscarriage and congenital malformations in the developing fetus. Furthermore, pregnant women exposed to higher levels of vinyl chloride were found to have babies born with an increased risk of birth defects, including kidney and heart defects, neural tube birth defects, and immune disorders.
Exposure to this chemical should be taken seriously, and pregnant women should take all necessary precautions to avoid potential exposure.