CDC confirms 7 of 15 federal investigators working East Palestine train derailment fell ill

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that of the 15 investigators from its Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) it sent to East Palestine, Ohio, last month, seven of them fell ill.

Ironically, the ATSDR investigators were sent to the small rural town to conduct an Assessment of Chemical Exposure, or “ACE investigation,” to determine the possible health impacts from the toxic train derailment that rocked the community and shocked the nation on February 3rd, CNN reports.

Those who became ill were part of a house-to-house survey team that was operating near the crash site.

The investigators experienced symptoms that matched those reported by residents following the release of a chemical cocktail into the air above East Palestine and included sore throats, headaches, coughing, and nausea.

“Symptoms resolved for most team members later the same afternoon, and everyone resumed work on survey data collection within 24 hours,” a CDC spokesperson said in the statement. “Impacted team members have not reported ongoing health effects.”

While the illnesses were brief, they fly in the face of repeated assurances from both government officials and Norfolk Southern representatives that the air and water in East Palestine aren’t hazardous to those who live and work there.

Reports CNN:

It is not clear what caused the investigators’ symptoms – whether chemical exposure or something else, such as fatigue. But the team, some of whom are officers and physicians in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, found it suspicious that they became ill at the same time and with the same symptoms, according to an official familiar with the cases who spoke to CNN.

Because the investigators’ symptoms improved soon after they left the area, the incident was not reported to the public, the official said, noting that reports of illnesses experienced by CDC personnel on the job wouldn’t ordinarily be disclosed.


Former Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) chief and an epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington University School of Public Health, David Michaels, said the investigators’ illnesses lend credence to claims made by residents of East Palestine.

“It adds confirmation that the symptoms reported by East Palestine residents are real and are associated with environmental exposures from the derailment and chemical fire,” he told CNN.

According to the outlet, the ACE investigators routinely worked 18-hour days following the chemical disaster in areas of the town that were heavily contaminated. They also traveled downwind of the spill to parts of neighboring Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

“It’s not clear what area the team members were in when they began to feel ill,” CNN reports. “The CDC spokesperson said the other eight members of the team did not experience symptoms.”

Online, news of the investigators’ illnesses has only heightened people’s skepticism of the CDC, EPA, the mainstream media, and the politicians who have repeatedly insisted that everything was fine.

“The people studying if this can make you sick….got sick?” asked one user on Twitter. “Must be a coincidence, right?”


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Melissa Fine


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