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Vizag gas leak: What is styrene gas?

Topics Covered: Disaster and disaster management.

Vizag gas leak: What is styrene gas?

What to study?

For Prelims and Mains: Leaked gas, effects and the reasons for leakage.

Context: A gas leak, reminiscent of the 1984 Bhopal tragedy, has affected thousands of residents in five villages in Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.

The source of the leak was a styrene plant owned by South Korean electronics giant LG, located at RRV Puram near Gopalapatnam, about 15 kms from the coast city.

What is styrene?

It is a flammable liquid that is used in the manufacturing of polystyrene plastics, fiberglass, rubber, and latex.

It is also found in vehicle exhaust, cigarette smoke, and in natural foods like fruits and vegetables.

What happens when exposed to styrene?

Short-term exposure to the substance can result in respiratory problems, irritation in the eyes, irritation in the mucous membrane, and gastrointestinal issues.

Long-term exposure could drastically affect the central nervous system and lead to other related problems like peripheral neuropathy. It could also lead to cancer and depression in some cases.

What are the symptoms?

  • Symptoms include headache, hearing loss, fatigue, weakness, difficulty in concentrating etc.
  • Animal studies, according to the EPA, have reported effects on the CNS, liver, kidney, and eye and nasal irritation from inhalation exposure to styrene.

Sources: Indian Express.