Vizag gas leak: What is styrene? Can its exposure be fatal?

Vizag gas leak: What is styrene? Can its exposure be fatal?
Visakhapatnam gas leak

Even as the world is battling the deadly coronavirus which has brought life to a standstill, Indians woke up to the tragic news of a poisonous gas leak from a chemical plant in Gopalapatnam area near Simhachalam in Visakhapatnam.

VishakapatnamThe gas leaked from the chemical plant named LG Polymers has so far claimed lives while hundreds are battling for their lives in hospitals across the city. Thursday morning turned out to a nightmares for the residents of RR Venkatapuram several people who had left their windows open for want of fresh air in summer ended up unconscious after inhaling the poisonous gas emitted by the chemical plant. Television channels showed those exposed to the gas having fainted on the roads.

While there is still confusion over what kind of gas it was, reports said it could be either vinyl benzene or styrene. A few even said it could very vinyl chloride.

According to the GVMC Commissioner Srijana Gummalla, the leaked compound was styrene, which is the user in the manufacture of polystyrene plastics, fibreglass, rubber, and latex.

So, how does Styrene affect the human body? As per health officials, mere exposure to gas may not be fatal. However, individuals with acute exposure to concentrated forms of the gas could suffer toxic effects. The consequences could be severe among kids.

The odour of the gas could be overpowering and is capable of harming the central nervous system. The initial effects may not be fatal. As per experts, short term exposure can lead to symptoms such as eye irritation, gastrointestinal problems and also affect the epithelial lining in various tissues.

Long term exposure to styrene could also cause the dysfunction of the central nervous system, fatigue, hearing loss, headache, and weakness. In extreme cases, acute exposure could also cause numbness of the feet.

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