A new study shows the aftermath of the Feb.3, 2023 East Palestine Train Derailment spread much farther than initially expected. 

Researchers in Wisconsin found air pollutants spiked in the week after the derailment from the Midwest to the Northeast. 16 states in the U.S. and southern parts of Canada had a spike in chloride, PH’s, calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium in their air. 

“The concentrations that we saw were so unusual, relative to what we normally see, it just stood out like a target,” David Gay the lead researcher of the study, said. 

The Norfolk Southern train derailed on the night of Feb. 3 in the village causing a large fire. Days after, with two of the cars increasing in pressure officials feared they would explode so they conducted a controlled chemical burn. 

The spike in air pollutants was caused by both the initial train fire and the controlled burn. Researchers said it was predictable that the pollution would spread but they didn’t think it would go as far as it did. 

“Once it gets up into the atmosphere it's free to move with the winds around the region and I don't think there's a whole lot that they could do,” Gay said. “The only thing that would’ve helped was to put the accident or the fire out faster.”

Researchers said the decision to do a controlled chemical burn might’ve caused less pollutants to go into the air. 

“I would guess there probably would have been more organic contamination had they not combusted it and basically moved it from the organic side to the inorganic side,” Gay said. 

Researchers said the pollutants are not harmful to people. However, their data will be used by other researchers to track any long term changes.

“They will use it to see the impacts going forward into the environment, and  how sensitive ecosystems are and how those can critically damage those ecosystems,” Katie Blaydes, another researcher for the study, said. 

“If it had burned for months then that would've been a different story… but it was such a short burst of compounds I don't think its going to have a lasting impact,” Gay said. 

The levels went back to normal levels three weeks after the derailment and have stayed low since.