Vizag: Tragedy struck Andhra Pradesh on Thursday morning, as around 13 people including an 8-year-old child, were killed after inhaling poisonous gases that accidentally leaked from a chemical factory in Visakhapatnam. Also Read - Vizag Gas Leak: Rescue Operations on War Footing, Death Toll May Rise | What we Know so Far
According to reports, leakage of neuro-toxic styrene gas was reported around 3 am at LG Polymers industry at RR Venkatapuram near Naiduthota area, at a time when workers were gearing up to reopen the plant. Also Read - 'What A Horrible Year This Has Been': Twitter in Shock As Horrific Visuals of Vizag Gas Leak Emerge
In scenes reminiscent of the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984, the streets and hospitals of Visakhapatnam were filled with people in panic, scared to breathe and unable to fathom the silent tragedy that struck them.
What is the Styrene Gas that caused it all?
Styrene is a colourless, sweet smelling, flammable liquid used in the manufacture of plastic products, rubber, insulation, fiberglass, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, and carpet backing. It also occurs naturally in many plants, vegetables, dairy products, meats, fish and beverages.
According to CDC, it can be found indoors as a result of operating photocopiers and laser printers, and from cigarette smoke.
How does it affect human health?
When burnt, styrene releases a poisonous gas which can cause nausea and dizziness and the person exposed to the gas should be given medical treatment immediately.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), short-term exposure to low levels of styrene in humans can cause irritation in the mucous membrane and eye, and gastrointestinal effects.
Long-term exposure, on the other hand, results in effects on the central nervous system, leading to headaches, fatigue, weakness, hearing loss, nerve damage and depression.
The consequences may be more severe among kids.