Carrier Donation Provides More Clean Air for East Palestine

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – More residents in East Palestine who are concerned about the air in their homes will receive assistance through a $152,000 donation by Carrier through Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley.

Carrier, a global company with $20.4 billion in net sales in 2022, donated 500 air purifiers, which will be distributed to those on a list at East Palestine First Church of Christ.

The church has been vetting and identifying low-income residents impacted by the Feb. 3 train derailment in the village who are interested in having an air purifier to make certain the air they are breathing in their homes is as clean as possible.

Kim Brock, director of operations at Second Harvest, also is a resident of East Palestine who evacuated with her husband the night of the train derailment. As someone who lives on East Taggart Street, the closed main road into Pennsylvania, Brock said after intensely cleaning their home and the air ducts and airing out the odor inside, they changed their furnace filter and found it to be black.

Though Brock said she is thankful the state and federal EPAs continue to monitor the air and water in the community, there are still concerns. At points during the cleanup, 100 trucks a day haul things from the derailment site past her home, which leads to crews power washing dirt and mud from the road.

“Let me assure you, as a resident of East Palestine, that this donation from Carrier is amazing,” Brock said. “The reassurance that it is going to provide these families – you really can’t put a dollar sign or dollar amount on that donation. It is just so kind and so generous. It’s genuinely going to impact a lot of families in East Palestine, a lot of families who would not ordinarily be able to afford this donation.”

Bridget Volz, associate director of product management for indoor air quality at Carrier, has the same air purifier being donated in her own home. It has a color-coded LED monitor that alerts residents if the air is safe or becomes unsafe, a 3-in-1 filter and 18 fan speeds. It can completely recycle the air in a 430-square-foot space five times in an hour, or fewer times in a larger home. Volz said when she is cooking in another room, she can then hear the fan speed in the filter ramp up in response to any smoke in the air. It auto-adjusts, which makes it more energy efficient.

On average, the filter will need to be replaced every six months, but it could be more often depending on the amount of use. The cost of the filter is about $100.

“If the air monitor sensor detects there is a contaminate within the home, high particulate levels, it is going to up the fan speed and adjust back down once the problem has been solved,” Volz said, noting this type of technology and the reassurance it provides should be important to everyone.

Volz said these air purifiers were launched in 2020 in response to the pandemic, and in her home in the Indianapolis area, there recently was an impact with the Canadian wildfire smoke. She has seen firsthand the difference that the air purifier made in her home.

“The impact that it is going to make here is going to be so much more substantial than even what I’m seeing in my home, and it is just so rewarding to have that confidence to know that you’re breathing clean air.”

Bridget Volz, associate director of product management for indoor air quality at Carrier, has the same air quality checking purifier technology in her own home.

In addition to thanking Carrier, Mike Iberis, executive director of Second Harvest, also thanked Price Heating and Cooling, Bill Wiery of W.W. Heating and Air Conditioning and Rhonda Wight of Refrigeration Sales, who were involved in this project, as an example of “people helping people.”

Through First Church of Christ, Iberis said Second Harvest will start getting the air purifiers into the hands of residents in the next couple of weeks, hauling them down on their trucks from their large warehouse space on Saltwell Road for distribution without overwhelming the location in East Palestine. It would not be possible to distribute all 500 at once.

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, thanked Carrier for the donation and the work of Second Harvest and First Church of Christ in funneling the air purifiers to the community.

“That’s some of the values that makes our country great,” Johnson said of companies getting involved in helping the people in the village through donations of food, water, money and items like air purifiers to help after the derailment.

As someone who has been on the ground in East Palestine often since the derailment, Johnson said he has personally smelled and tasted the chemical odor and metallic taste residents have been experiencing.

“These air purifiers are going to be a real, real comfort to many of the residents who live there,” Johnson said.

Johnson pointed out the people in East Palestine did not ask for any of this to happen. It has led to a lot of uncertainty for residents and action by many on a local, state and federal level to make certain the air and water is safe, the cleanup is conducted as safely and effectively as possible and no health concerns are being missed.

“Every concern that the residents of East Palestine have, as far as I’m concerned, is a legitimate concern, and we’re going to address those,” Johnson said.

The congressman is hopeful the ongoing work around the community will soon be completed, but he reiterated his pledge that it will not be over until the residents of East Palestine say it is over.

Cleanup continues around the derailment site, where remediation of contaminated soil under the north track was completed, the track was replaced and the normal schedule of eastbound and westbound train traffic is expected to resume, according to Norfolk Southern. Work is expected to continue as the railroad’s contractors, with U.S. and Ohio EPA supervision, check other potentially impacted areas around the tracks, excavate soil and continue assessing and cleaning sediment in Sulphur and Leslie Runs.

Air and water monitoring continue, including around the cleanup site, with the railway and EPA both reporting both remain safe. However, that has not reassured every resident of the village, including some who continue to claim health effects from the chemicals.

Earlier in June, Second Harvest had announced a gift of 70 air purifiers from local Home Depot stores, which were distributed to members of the community. But at that time, that donation was enough to cover only about half of the households requesting them. Brock said more names have been added to the list, and there are now 180 more households requesting them.

Any East Palestine household wanting to be placed on the list should contact First Church of Christ by calling 330 426 9687.

Pictured at top: From left are Kim Brock, director of operations at Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley; U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson; Bridget Volz, associate director of product management for indoor air quality at Carrier; and Mike Iberis, executive director of Second Harvest.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.