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Current Affairs

Styrene gas

Date: 08 May 2020 Tags: Disaster & Disaster Management

Issue

The styrene gas that leaked from LG Polymers, has killed many and created panic in several areas of Visakhapatnam.

 

Background

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.

 

Details

  • Styrene gas is a synthetic chemical that is used to manufacture synthetic rubber and plastic packaging.

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

  • The colourless liquid evaporates easily, and can be fatal if inhaled or ingested in high quantities.

  • High exposure can cause coma and pulmonary edema (chest swelling) while low and moderate exposure can result in burning sensation, skin irritation and affect the nervous system.

  • As per the US-based Environment Protection Agency (EPA), short-term exposure to the substance can result in respiratory problems, irritation in the eyes, irritation in the mucous membrane, and gastrointestinal issues.

  • And 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.

  • However, EPA notes that there is no sufficient evidence despite several epidemiology studies indicating there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukaemia and lymphoma.

 

Symptoms

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