My family has been poisoned by toxic air pollution containing a known neurotoxin. Ours was one of the many that suffered in the wake of the vinyl chloride spill in Paulsboro following a train derailment. Our home was located a few miles from the place of the accident. We were initially told our community was safe, even though our health continued to deteriorate. It wasn’t until months later we discovered that the air quality monitoring system was improperly calibrated causing my family to face increased risk.
Our entire family was sickened. I eventually lost consciousness the day of the accident. My then 6-year old had watery eyes and complained of his throat burning and 6 months later, my then 2-year-old son began suffering extreme nosebleeds.
My youngest son has experienced neurological delays impacting his speech and quality of life. He easily becomes overstimulated causing him to feel pain or discomfort. Family gatherings can be an overwhelming experience for him. He often refuses to engage with others and hides when the noise becomes too much. He faces similar challenges in the classroom and fortunately has a team of experts at his school who help meet his daily needs. Following the accident, it also became difficult to bathe him, as the sensation of water became too much for his sensitive body to handle.
I must also live with the constant worry knowing that vinyl chloride is a known carcinogen. I have two sons who were exposed to the toxic air pollutant and whenever one becomes sick, my mind automatically wonders if they may have cancer. This fear will never go away. I don’t want another family to experience what we’ve gone through and will have to cope with for years to come. The only solution I see is stronger pollution protections. The Clean Air Act is our best defense for ensuring the air we breathe is safe and doesn’t cause harm to those most vulnerable, especially our children.
First published: January 28, 2019
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