Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Styrene Gas leak case

Topics Covered: Disaster management.

Styrene Gas leak case

Context:

Andhra Pradesh State government has extended the time for submission of report by the high-power committee that is probing the styrene monomer vapour leak incident at the LG Polymers unit till June 30.

Background:

The committee was constituted to investigate into the May 7 incident that had killed 12 persons and hospitalised many others residing in the vicinity of the factory located at R.R. Venkatapuram village.

  • The government had earlier asked the committee to submit the report by June 22.
  • The committee, besides probing the cause of the incident, would also find possible solutions to address the concerns raised by the victims and recommend steps to be taken, and identify hazardous industries.

A quick look at Styrene Gas and its impacts:

What is Styrene?

Styrene — an organic compound used in the production of polymers, plastics and resins — is manufactured in petrochemical refineries.

It is a poisonous, inflammable gas.

It is also known as PVC gas (polyvinyl chloride), as it is used in the production of PVC.

Styrene is the 20th most-used chemical in the world, according to the World Health Organization.

Where it can be found?

The chemical can be found in air, water and soil once released into the environment. It is broken down in air in 1-2 days, while it evaporates from soil and shallow water surfaces. It is broken down by micro-organisms if it reaches soil.

Styrene occurs naturally in small quantities in some plants and foods (cinnamon, coffee beans, balsam trees and peanuts) and is also found in coal tar.

How it affects living beings?

  1. When humans are exposed to styrene, it causes eye irritation and gastro-intestinal effects.
  2. It also impacts the outer layer of tissues in the skin causing erosion and bleeding in the short term.
  3. Long-term effects include central nervous system dysfunction, depression, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy (a numb feeling in the hands and feet).
  4. It also leads to an increase in the colour confusion index that may lead to colour blindness.
  5. Styrene is a possible carcinogen and can cause cancer under long exposure.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. What is Styrene? Where and how it occurs?
  2. How and when liquid styrene turns into its gaseous form?
  3. Does it occur naturally?
  4. Health impacts.
  5. Applications.

Sources: the Hindu.