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Bhopal victim


The site in central India of a mass ecodisaster, caused by methyl isothiocyanate–MIC–which is used to produce carbaril pesticides

Acute toxicity Respiratory distress due to cyanide toxicity–dyspnoea, cough, throat irritation, chest pain, haemoptysis, death 

Chronic toxicity Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis

Ophthalmology Burning, oedema, erythema, tearing, pain, photophobia, corneal ulceration

Event: Water leaked into a tank containing MIC, resulting in a thermogenic reaction that vaporised 42 tons, resulting in toxic gas covering an area of 80 km2–30 square miles, exposing up to 600,000 people. The official death toll was 2500; the unofficial death toll was estimated at 8,000-10,000. Up to 25,000 individuals are believed to have died due to the exposure. Bhopal holds the record for the world’s worst industrial disaster. The epic proportions of the disaster were only outdone by Union Carbide’s washing its hands of the ongoing ecodisaster it created. 

Negative impact of MIC is reported in gestation, in the immune, neuromuscular and other systems 

Note: In 1978, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health–NIOSH indicated MIC had poor warning properties–e.g., smell, and thus had been considered a dangerous chemical; toxicologic data is minimal as MIC is regarded as too dangerous to properly assess, even more so than phosgene, the poison gas used as a chemical weapon during World War I. Decades after it occurred, those exposed continue to suffer from respiratory–40-93% of those exposed, ophthalmic–e.g., blindness, intestinal, reproductive–43% miscarriage, birth defects, neurologic–e.g., paralysis–disease, and malignancy

References Indian J Med Res 1990; 91:28
JAMA 1990; 264:2781rv
Scientific American 1995; 272/6:16 

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