TikToker speaking with hand on forehead (l) car paint with caption '400 miles from East Palestine, OH after a rain storm Westchester County, NY' (c) TikToker speaking with hand up (r)

@leggsssesquire/TikTok @leggsssesquire/TikTok

Claims of acid rain from toxic train derailment are going viral—but there’s reason to be skeptical

'It smelled TERRIBLE outside last night & I have never seen any sort of orange/white powders on my car after a storm.'

 

Jacob Seitz

Tech

Posted on Feb 22, 2023   Updated on Feb 22, 2023, 8:25 am CST

A TikTok went viral over the weekend that allegedly shows the effects of acid rain in Westchester County, New York.

The TikTok, from creator @leggsssesquire, shows a red car with white and brown specks all over it, allegedly from acid rain that the creator claims was caused by the East Palestine, Ohio train derailment.

@leggsssesquire

It smelled TERRIBLE outside last night & I have never seen any sort of orange/white powders on my car after a storm. I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over a year. We are 400 miles east of East Palestine, OH. Lots of residents reporting the awful odor too. #norfolksouthern NEEDS TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!! #eastpalestine #eastpalestineohio #eastpalestinetraincrash #EPA #eastpalestinedisaster #acidrain

♬ original sound – Legggssssss

“It smelled TERRIBLE outside last night & I have never seen any sort of orange/white powders on my car after a storm,” the creator said in the description. “I’ve lived in this neighborhood for over a year. We are 400 miles east of East Palestine, OH. Lots of residents reporting the awful odor too.”

The video has over 800,000 views and 31,000 likes. In subsequent videos, the creator said she called the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and reported the rain and what it did to her car.

According to her video, the DEC said she was not the only caller to report the alleged acid rain. 

“I said to them, ‘I feel like I’m going crazy, I feel like I’m losing my mind,’ and she said to me, verbatim, ‘You are not going crazy, we have been receiving these calls all day, all night, all over the state,’” she said in the video.

@leggsssesquire

#stitch with @leggsssesquire they also said that they’re thoroughly investigating everyone’s reports & that anyone with something to report in NY should call 1-800-457-7362. If you’re impacted in another state, call your state’s DEC + document everything!! #eastpalestineohio #eastpalestine #eastpalestinetraincrash #acidrain #EPA #DEC #norfolksouthern #eastpalestinedisaster

♬ original sound – Legggssssss

However, the DEC disputed the TikToker’s claim in a comment to the Daily Dot.

“DEC received several calls on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, mostly about odors in New York’s Hudson Valley. At least one caller shared concerns about whether rainfall could be acidic,” a DEC spokesperson said.

New York was hit by a mysterious odor recently that did result in some complaints to DEC.

“DEC’s investigation into an unusual odor in the Hudson Valley is ongoing. DEC’s preliminary findings determined that the odor was strongest in Orange County, indicating a localized source. No imminent public health or environmental threat was detected based on initial air readings taken by DEC.”

DEC said it is monitoring the situation in Ohio and that “there is no reason to suspect an increase in rain acidity in New York State.”

The creator then encouraged people to call the DEC hotline and report their own experience with the alleged acid rain.

Their second video went even more viral, receiving 4.8 million views and 300,000 likes. The creator’s car showcased the alleged damage from the rain in another video after getting a car wash. 

However, some people in the comments were skeptical of the claim, saying she was only showing the hood of her car and not the roof.

“TBH… looks like chipped paint from winter driving if it is only on the hood. Now, if it is on the roof and trunk, then it could be acid rain,” wrote one.

Acid rain has become a common fear for many TikTokers after the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The train was carrying hundreds of thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals, which caught fire when the train derailed. The state also undertook a controlled burn for several days, sending large plumes of smoke and harmful gas into the atmosphere.

Three class action lawsuits have been launched against the railway company, Norfolk Southern Railway, alleging negligence and malpractice. 

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*First Published: Feb 22, 2023, 8:23 am CST