Research Horizons


Workshop Report Published on Ohio Train Derailment

Experts joining National Academies’ event to discuss public health and surveillance priorities include scientist from Cincinnati Children’s sharing Poison Control Center experiences

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has published the proceedings of a 2-day public workshop held in November to explore the public health response to the massive train derailment and hazardous material release that occurred in  East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, 2023.

The 13-page report highlights discussions about the acute health symptoms experienced by residents and first responders, as well as mental trauma, loss of trust, financial hardships, gaps in disaster preparedness, mental health care access, and uncertainties concerning long-term health risks reported in the community.

The report includes comments from Nicholas Newman, DO, MS, director of the Pediatric Environmental Health and Lead Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s. He reported that poison control centers in the region received more than 200 exposure-related calls regarding East Palestine, mostly about respiratory, neurological, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Newman indicated that staff receiving such calls needed fresh fact sheets for sharing information about the chemical exposures involved in the derailment. He also noted a lack of clear clinical guidance to provide to physicians regarding care management decisions, diagnosis, and treatment, particularly for children and pregnant women.

While a variety of acute effects were expected to resolve over time, Newman joined other experts at the workshop who said substantial uncertainty remains regarding potential long-term health impacts from the derailment.

Read the full report