Poll results

In the aftermath of the February 3rd train derailment in East Palestine, questions continue to swirl. While media coverage has largely shifted to spotlight transportation company Norfolk Southern’s ongoing legal woes, little attention has been paid to area citizen sentiment. As local and national debates play out over air and water safety, comparatively little focus has been given to the lifestyle changes made by East Palestine residents.

A recent poll from WaterFilterGuru highlights the drastic changes in behavior and beliefs among Ohio residents. The study, which centers on citizen sentiment amidst the fallout of the hazardous chemical spill, makes clear that the incident’s impact reaches far beyond Columbiana County. In fact, the data suggest that Americans across the country have rethought daily routines ranging from tap water use to acid rain.

Perhaps most striking is the finding that only 2% of Ohio parents would let their children bathe in East Palestine’s tap water. While local and national political figures moved quickly to quell anxieties about water quality in the weeks following the derailment, the report makes clear the lingering uncertainty that many Ohioans harbor two months out.

What’s more, three in four Ohio residents polled reportedly believe the government has not done enough to date to address the health and safety impacts of the spill. Among the chemicals spilled, ​​vinyl chloride was one of the more hazardous substances confirmed shortly after the incident occurred. Vinyl chloride is a cancer-causing toxic chemical that’s soluble in water at normal room temperature. Even drinking low levels of vinyl chloride over a progressive time period may increase your risk of cancer and other health problems.

Ohio residents made clear the extent of their concern over the water quality as 56% believe it will be years or longer until East Palestine’s drinking water is safe. While many Ohioans sought further information from local officials and the Environmental Protection Agency, the months following the derailment have laid bare the continued lack of information made available. An overwhelming 86% do not feel they’ve received enough information about the incident and risks associated with the toxic chemicals involved.

Much has changed since the early days of the spill when 1 in 5 Ohioans switched to bottled water as a result of the incident. Toxic waste has been transported away from the site and into EPA-sanctioned disposal areas in at least one neighboring state. Lawsuits have been levied against Norfolk Southern. But one glaring constant is the continued dearth of information available to residents of East Palestine and the surrounding areas regarding the derailment. Given that 6 in 10 Ohio residents do not believe the incident in East Palestine is getting or has received adequate media coverage, it may be a longer still until the true impact of the spill emerges.


Brian Campbell is the founder of, where he blogs about all things water quality. His passion for helping people get access to clean, safe water flows through the expert industry coverage he provides. Follow him on twitter @WF_Guru or contact him by email