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Seeing soot on your car? It’s not from the Ohio train derailment, CT environmental officials say

This video screenshot released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the site of a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio. About 50 Norfolk Southern freight train cars derailed on the night of Feb. 3 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, due to a mechanical problem on an axle of one of the vehicles. There were a total of 20 hazardous material cars, 10 of which derailed, according to the NTSB, a U.S. government agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation.
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This video screenshot released by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) shows the site of a derailed freight train in East Palestine, Ohio. About 50 Norfolk Southern freight train cars derailed on the night of Feb. 3 near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border due to a mechanical problem on an axle of one of the vehicles. There were 20 hazardous material cars, 10 of which derailed, according to the NTSB, a U.S. government agency responsible for civil transportation accident investigation.

People in Connecticut are reporting an ashlike substance covering vehicles, but state environmental officials say there’s no evidence it’s related to the Ohio train derailment and subsequent burning of hazardous chemicals.

“We are aware of local reports from this morning regarding ‘sooty’ matter on parked cars and have not been able to determine any singular source,” the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said in a statement issued Friday.

Officials say they can’t determine any singular source that would cause the sooty substance — such as a forest fire, power plant or transportation-related emissions.

Officials say air flows have been following the Interstate 95 corridor, northeasterly into Connecticut.

DEEP had forecasted "good" air quality Friday with respect to fine particulate matter. Air quality monitors across the Northeast — from Washington, D.C., to New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts — were showing moderate levels of fine particulate matter as of Friday morning. But a cold front and rainfall should bring those levels back to "good" by late Friday afternoon, DEEP officials said.

There have been concerns in Ohio about air quality after a train hauling chemicals derailed in early February and sent up a toxic plume near the Pennsylvania state line. Since the derailment, residents in Ohio have complained about headaches and irritated eyes and finding their cars and lawns covered in soot. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Aasen is executive editor at Connecticut Public, the statewide NPR and PBS service. He leads the newsroom, including editors, reporters, producers and newscasters, and oversees all local news, including radio, digital and television platforms. Eric joined Connecticut Public in 2022 from KERA, the NPR/PBS member station in Dallas-Fort Worth, where he served as managing editor and digital news editor. He's directed coverage of several breaking news events and edited and shaped a variety of award-winning broadcast and digital stories. In 2023, Connecticut Public earned a national Edward R. Murrow Award for coverage that explored 10 years since the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, as well as five regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. In 2015, Eric was part of a KERA team that won a national Online Journalism Award. In 2017, KERA earned a station-record eight regional Murrow Awards, including Overall Excellence. Eric joined KERA after more than a decade as a reporter at The Dallas Morning News. A Minnesota native, Eric has wanted to be a journalist since he was in the third grade. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from DePauw University in Indiana, where he earned a political science degree. He and his wife, a Connecticut native, have a daughter and a son, as well as a dog and three cats.

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