On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in the village of East Palestine, Ohio. Nearly half of the local 4,800 residents evacuated within hours of the derailment. Norfolk Southern subsequently carried out a controlled combustion of five tankers, releasing phosgene, a colorless gas that smells like musty hay, and hydrogen chloride, a colorless to slightly yellow gas with a pungent odor, into the atmosphere. Upon exposure, both substances can cause symptoms ranging from irritation of the nose, throat, skin, eyes, and larynx to vomiting and breathing difficulties. For residents of East Palestine and the surrounding communities, concern about the unknown and potentially long-term environmental and health effects of these exposures remains high.
The Healthy Futures Research Project aims to work with the residents of East Palestine and the surrounding area to understand the impact of this crisis by engaging in community-based participatory research. The research team will study the biological impact of chemical exposures on the short- and long-term health of residents by measuring DNA damage which may increase the risk of developing chronic health conditions such as cancer, metabolic and autoimmune diseases. The project team will engage residents through in-person interviews to better understand post-disaster quality of life, risk perceptions, and healthcare needs.
Interested in participating? Take the Healthy Futures Research Participant Screener to check your eligibility.
The multi-center research team is comprised of epidemiologists, community outreach specialists, and healthcare advocates and is supported by partnerships at institutions across the affected region.
- Fredrick Schumacher, PhD, MPH
- Erika Trapl, PhD
- Daniel Tisch, PhD, MPH
- Maeve MacMurdo, MBChC, MPH
- Maura McCall, PhD, RN
Healthy Futures Research is currently developing a Community Advisory Board (CAB) to guide future participant recruitment and advocacy efforts. This group will ensure that residents are able to help shape current and future research projects. If you are interested in participating in the Healthy Futures Research CAB or receiving research updates, fill out the form here.
- Host stakeholder engagement events to introduce the project and research team to the community and recruit a resident cohort.
- Collect participant exposure and individual health risk profiles via online questionnaires.
- Collect participant biospecimens to assess exposure impact on residents' health and determine the relationship between proximity from the exposure epicenter and DNA damage.
- Conduct interviews with residents on coping strategies, how disaster shapes risk perception, and their access to health-protective resources.
Community Outreach Events
Columbiana County Fair
Lawrence County Fair
Case Western Reserve University seeks volunteers for East Palestine health study
WOIO Channel 19 News
Study Seeks Participants to Examine Health Impact of East Palestine Disaster
Public News Service
Study considers East Palestine post-derailment link between air quality, disease
Ideastream Public Media
For more information, email the study team at firstname.lastname@example.org.