'They Said It Was Safe': Sick East Palestine Residents Suffer With Rashes, Nosebleeds, and Flu-Like Symptoms Weeks After Norfolk Southern Disaster
“It feels like the worst flu imaginable,” Kristin Battaglia told Status Coup about her deteriorating health following the derailment. Her eight-year-old son is also sick and having nosebleeds
39 days after a 200+ car Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine Ohio—and 36 days after its “controlled burn” fired a cannon of cancer-causing chemicals into the air, water, and soil—residents Status Coup has spoken with continue to suffer from a variety of serious health problems. Amidst their physical and mental trauma, and in many cases having to endure homes and a community that reek of chemicals, they continue to receive few answers other than an “all clear” from the EPA proclaiming their air, water, and soil safe.
But the rashes spreading across their bodies, blood oozing from their noses, and burning sensation while showering scream something very different.
“It feels like the worst flu imaginable,” Kristin Battaglia, 37, told Status Coup about her deteriorating health symptoms following the derailment.
Battaglia and her eight-year-old son live 1.3 miles away from the derailment site. Two days after the derailment, on February 5th, they evacuated—a day before the “controlled burn.” When she arrived in Sandusky, Ohio, Battaglia noticed she had water blisters and “skin peeling off of me,” she told Status Coup. But once the short evacuation order was lifted, Battaglia, trusting the experts, returned home with her son.
“They said it’s safe-air and water all safe and fine,” Battaglia said. “I had a bad feeling about it but didn’t want to overreact and thought EPA has to have the top technology and labs to test this.”
Since coming back to East Palestine, Kristin and her son’s health has gotten worse. Doctors diagnosed both of them with chemical inhalation from environmental exposure. For Battaglia, rashes have developed soon after taking showers at home in East Palestine—a home that is connected to East Palestine city water that Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and EPA officials have declared safe.
“Towards the end of the shower my face was burning but it didn’t freak me out until I looked in the mirror,” Battaglia told Status Coup. Beyond the burning feeling and uncomfortable rashes, Battaglia has developed other health problems: an ear infection in her left ear, sore throat, cough, chest pain, burning eyes, constant running nose, headaches and migraines, fatigue, anxiety, insomnia, and bone pain.
It feels like “my body was vibrating,” Battaglia said. “I’m not sure if that is a tremor or if I hallucinated that. It hits in waves. [My] jaw is clenching bad.”
Things took a turn for the worse over the weekend; a day-and-a-half after a rash broke out on her face, she developed full-blown flu-like symptoms. “I’m still in a lot of full-body pain like the flu, and [it] sounds like I have laryngitis, feels like laryngitis, my throat is very scratchy and dry.”
The symptoms have made it difficult for her to swallow and eat; tellingly, the only thing that has helped Kristin has been leaving East Palestine.
“Within 3 hours being out of town - my throat, airways opened up and then within 12 hours the coughing and chest pain went away,” she told Status Coup.
On top of her own health horror show, Battaglia had to take her eight-year-old son to the emergency room on March 8th when his nose began ferociously bleeding.
“My son started the nose bleeds Wednesday and we went to Akron Children’s [Hospital] on Thursday. They did CT scan and it showed all his airways were swollen and inflamed to the point the capillaries in his nose burst. His throat, adenoids, and lymph nodes were all enlarged as well”
Battaglia says her son’s babysitter, and her boyfriend, are also very sick with bloody noses and some of the same symptoms her and other residents have developed.
Rashes are developing for other East Palestine residents—who are staying outside of the village.
Ashley McCollum has been staying with her kids just over the Pennsylvania state border in Darlington PA. Four miles from East Palestine, McCollum has also been ravaged by body rashes after showering.
“My neck and chin on fire,” she told Status Coup. She has switched to showering in cold water. The house she is staying in is on well water.
Her back and legs have the same splotches as her chin and chest. “A couple minutes into the shower you notice discomfort,” she said, adding that the rash alternates from an itchy feeling to a burning sensation—but doesn’t last long. McCollum equated the feeling as similar to a heat rash.
McCollum had to take her kids out of school due to their health issues after the derailment. “My son kept complaining of stomach pains, my daughter said it looked like everyone had pink eye, her eyes were itching, she was dizzy,” she told Status Coup’s Louis DeAgenlis. Her son was also really sick.
For McCollum, just leaving her house and moving around town eft her with a dazed feeling.
"I felt like I was under the influence whenever I left my house one day and it was really odd,” she said. “I never felt like that and I could tell people were driving a little bit weird.” She said after she spoke with other residents about how she felt, she learned they were feeling the same thing.
From Battaglia to McCollum, many other residents Status Coup has spoken with are developing rashes as well as nosebleeds, nausea, dizziness, sore throats, sinus issues, diarrhea, burning in their eyes, and other issues.
They said "we had to evacuate or they're coming back with body bags,” East Palestine resident Moo Blake recounted to Status Coup’s Louis DeAngelis about what first responders told her and neighbors after the derailment and controlled burn.
The toxic chemicals released from the train deeply sickened Blake.
“I ended up getting acute bronchitis from chemical fumes…the[hospital] put me on a breathing machine, oxygen, gave me three types of steroids, they quarantined me" -Blake said.
But Governor Mike DeWine, along with the federal EPA and state EPA, have continued to declare East Palestine’s air and water safe, citing ongoing testing. Residents Status Coup has spoken with do not trust the federal and state testing—which have in some cases used contractors previously busted for falsifying radiation levels in previous air testing. But many have found it hard to secure independent testing due to expensive price quotes from labs.
As the mainstream media has mostly moved on from extensively covering the East Palestine disaster, Status Coup’s Louis DeAngelis is BACK in East Palestine for his second reporting trip in a month. Louis will be interviewing affected residents in East Palestine—and nearby neighborhoods—to uncover and reveal what's really happening ON-THE-GROUND more than a month after this disaster. SUPPORT Status Coup’s ON-THE-GROUND reporting by becoming a paying monthly member for $5-10 bucks a month. Your support helps fund our ongoing reporting. You can also sign up to our Substack as either a free or paid subscriber. We will be providing updates here all week.
Stolen elections have consequences..for all of us.
Kristin is most likely suffering the effects of DIOXIN, one of the most deadly substances known -- ALWAYS generated when vinyl chloride is burned with hydrocarbons, as did Norfolk Southern's saboteurs to TONS of the stuff.
Kristin must go to the Health Ranger for advice or look up Dr Eric Coppolino, a Dioxin researcher. Dioxin KILLS.