CDC Alters Webpage Days after Ohio Train Derailment
Made Vinyl Chloride Look Less Toxic
Archives of a CDC webpage show that for the first time in 9 years, the agency edited toxicity information on vinyl chloride just days after Ohio train derailment—but HHS and the EPA are in on it too.
Reports are circulating on Twitter with claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) changed its guidelines on vinyl chloride days before the toxic release of chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. But the reality is that the CDC was not the only agency involved, and the timing of the changes is in question.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and CDC worked together in a coordinated effort to alter vinyl chloride’s toxicity guidelines shortly before and after the train derailment in Ohio that released 1.1 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the air, soil and water to make the chemical look less harmful.
In addition, just three months ago, East Palestine adopted a pilot program to respond to emergency events where digital IDs were given to residents to track long-term health problems like “difficulty breathing.”
Timeline: (1) HHS and the CDC, in coordination with the EPA, publish an update to the vinyl chloride toxicity profile in January 2023 for the first time in 17 years. (2) Digital IDs on Jan. 26 are rolled out to East Palestine and a nearby township. (3) Train derails on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio, and a million pounds of highly toxic and potentially lethal vinyl chloride are released into the environment. (4) CDC alters its webpage on or around Feb. 6, 2023, on vinyl chloride, omitting key sections on toxicity. This webpage had not been reviewed for nine years. (5) Health and environmental officials deem the area safe. (6) Lawsuits are filed.
HHS, in January 2023, published a 293-page document called “Toxicological Profile of Vinyl Chloride,” which was prepared in accordance with guidelines developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) and the EPA.
The original guidelines on vinyl chloride were published in the Federal Register in August 1989 and were (prior to Jan. 2023) most recently updated in 2006. So for 17 years, the toxicological profile of vinyl chloride had not been altered.
According to HHS, the ATSDR peer-reviewed toxicological profile of vinyl chloride “succinctly characterizes” its toxicologic and adverse health effects—and identifies available toxicological information, epidemiologic evaluations and the level of exposure that presents a significant risk to human health.
ATSDR toxicological guidelines are published by the CDC under the auspices of HHS and drafted in coordination with the EPA.
The CDC’s FAQ webpage for vinyl chloride was recently modified as well. An archived version captured three days after the East Palestine train derailment shows a longer, more detailed FAQ section on vinyl chloride that included a section on the dangers of the chemical in children, recommendations made by the federal government to protect human health and a lower level of lethal exposure.
A current version of the same webpage omits this information, expands the level of human exposure (meaning you can suddenly be exposed to more of a highly toxic substance before you experience detrimental effects and includes a laughable new section on how to protect yourself and your family from vinyl chloride.