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LEAKED AUDIO: CDC Urging Doctors Not to Test East Palestine Residents for Cancer-Causing Vinyl Chloride. Residents Are Testing Positive Anyway
"Somebody said supposedly that politics are mixing in there, that they don't want to be testing for these kind of things because their involved in the lawsuit," Dr. tells East Palestine's Eric Cozza
Multiple residents in East Palestine have provided Status Coup results of urine samples that showed they had elevated levels of Vinyl Chloride a month, and two months, after the Norfolk Southern train derailment and so-called “controlled burn.”
Norfolk Southern claimed it vented and burned five cars of the highly flammable and toxic chemical on February 6 after its train derailed. According to the Center for Disease Control [CDC], “breathing high levels of vinyl chloride can cause you to feel dizzy or sleepy. Breathing very high levels can cause you to pass out, and breathing extremely high levels can cause death.” In the long term, Vinyl Chloride exposure can cause several types of cancer, including liver cancer.
Despite this, the CDC has urged doctors and medical providers in East Palestine not to test sick, struggling residents for the cancer-causing carcinogen, leaked audio obtained by Status Coup revealed.
“There’s nothing to test for, there’s a certain timeframe they’re telling us it has to be done,” a worker at Mercy Health in East Palestine told Eric Cozza, an East Palestine resident and patient who recorded the conversation on April 5 when he went in seeking a script from his doctor to get his urine tested for Vinyl Chloride.
In this exchange, the Mercy medical official tells Cozza that the CDC is recommending them not to test residents.
“We’re not getting all the answers either,” the Mercy healthcare worker begins. “All they are telling us is the same thing, the CDC. All they said is that the CDC doesn’t recommend it.”
Cozza, 48, whose house is 200 yards from where the train derailed, has been suffering with nosebleeds, burning eyes, headaches, chest pain, and short term memory loss since the derailment. His fiancee has suffered with rashes among other symptoms.
Presumably, the timeframe the Mercy Health official was referring to was in reference to the very fast metabolism and excretion of Vinyl Chloride following exposure (usually exits the body a day after exposure).
“Assuming the CDC representative was acting in good faith, their recommendation to not perform testing was likely due to the very fast metabolism and excretion of VC following a single exposure,” a chemist, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Status Coup in response to the CDC urging healthcare providers not to test East Palestine residents for Vinyl Chloride. “I think this was due to an assumption [by CDC] that VC exposure [for residents] was just in the first week of Feb, in which case urine TDGA would not be detectable in April.”
But there’s one glaring problem with that: residents like Eric’s urine tests detected elevated Vinyl Chloride levels two months after the derailment—meaning residents are likely being continually exposed to Vinyl Chloride.
“While not a smoking gun, these results strongly support the notion that East Palestine residents have been subject to subchronic exposure to VC and VC degradants from water, soil, and on/in surfaces/structures,” the chemist told Status Coup. “Clearly, the urine test indicates continued exposure since Feb. It would be helpful if urine TDGA was periodically tested to understand the trends in subchronic exposure.”
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The chemist went on to call CDC’s recommendation to be “flawed and uninformed at best, negligent and cynical at worst.”
In another conversation that Cozza recorded, Mercy Hospital Dr. Jeffrey Cohen—who agreed with him that residents should be getting tested for Vinyl Chloride—told him that “somebody said supposedly that politics is mixing in there and they don’t want to be testing for these kind of things because they’re involved in the lawsuit.”
It’s unclear if the doctor was referring to the EPA or CDC not wanting residents tested for Vinyl Chloride for political reasons (the EPA has sued Norfolk Southern over the East Palestine derailment).
In Cozza’s urine test, which he gave permission to Status Coup to publish, his Thiodiglycolic Acid [TDGA] level, a marker for exposure to Vinyl Chloride, was 0.60. This was above the test’s reporting limit of 0.50.
The chemist explained this result is far beyond the threshold for concern.
“There was 0.60 mcg/mL in this resident's urine. Assuming best case scenario where urine volume is low--say 800 mL/day--the total amount of TDGA averaged over a day is 480 mcg. Considering the urine creatinine was normal, this is a generous assumption. If we assume all of the TDGA was from VC exposure (best case assumption), 100% of VC ended up as TDGA (also best-case assumption), and that TDGA levels were at steady state (not a best-case assumption, but the single snapshot of urine level and complexity of VC pharmacokinetics demands this assumption), 0.60 mcg/mL in urine indicates exposure of 200 mcg of VC per day...far beyond the Threshold of Toxicological Concern [TTC] limits employed for pharmaceuticals. “
Another resident, Paul Walker, 47—who lives with his wife 90 feet from the site of the derailment and “controlled burn”—had his urine tested in March, a month after the derailment and “controlled burn.”
His TDGA was at 0.61—with the test’s reporting limit at 0.50.
Walker has been suffering with a vicious cough, bad headaches, shorteness of breath, and fatigue since the derailment.
“They are doing more testing on him,” his wife Shelby told Status Coup. “These doctors don't know nothing about this stuff.”
The chemist who offered Status Coup insight into the residents’ urine tests offered a blunt, although admittedly unscientific, assessment of the CDC’s motivation behind urging healthcare providers against testing East Palestine residents for Vinyl Chloride on an ongoing basis.
“In my unscientific opinion, I believe the EPA and CDC are circling their wagons in an effort to cover their asses,” the chemist said. “They continue to show that they are more interested in protecting their bureaucracies than protecting the health and wellbeing of Americans suffering at the hands of corporate negligence and greed.”
The CDC did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Status Coup.
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