Styrene Gas Leak in Vizag: What Is Styrene? What Is Its Effect on Human Health? Know All About This Poisonous Gas

Team Latestly

Visakhapatnam, May 7: As many as seven people have been killed so far and more than a hundred people have been rushed to hospital after a poisonous gas leak from LG Polymers's plant in Visakhapatman on Thursday morning. The accidental leakage of styrene gas was reported from Korean company LG Polymers’ plant at Venkatapuram village in Visakhapatnam. Fear and panic gripped the village after people complained of of burning sensation in eyes and breathing difficulties as the strong stench of the gas enveloped the entire region.

Also Read | Vizag Gas Leak: 7 Dead in Styrene Gas Leakage at LG Polymers Industry, PM Narendra Modi Holds Meeting With NDMA

According to district administration, the neuro-toxic gas Styrene leaked from LG Polymers around 3 am this morning from the plant in R R Venkatapuram.  Visakhapatnam City CP, RK Meena said the maximum impact was in about 1-1.5 km but smell was in 2-2.5 km. The official informed that 100-120 people have been shifted to hospitals. Meanwhile, police official Swaroop Rani in Visakhapatnam said that the incident happened at a plant operated by LG Polymers and that gas leaked out of two 5,000-tonne tanks that had been unattended due to India's coronavirus lockdown in place since late March.  Vizag Gas Leak: 7 Dead in Styrene Gas Leakage at LG Polymers Industry, PM Narendra Modi Calls Meeting of NDMA.

What is Styrene gas

Styrene Gas (Photo Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Also Read | Chemical Gas Leak at LG Polymers Plant in Visakhapatnam: Death Toll Increases to 7, Evacuation Operation Underway

The poisonous gas is a flammable (can be easily set on fire) liquid that is used to make polystyrene plastics, fiberglass, rubber, and latex. Styrene gas, with chemical formula C6H5CH=CH2, is also known as ethenylbenzene, vinylbenzene, and phenylethene. It is used to make several things including insulation, pipes, automobile parts, food containers, toys, shoes, among other things.

Impact of Styrene gas on Humans

Styrene is regarded as a "known carcinogen", especially in case of eye contact, but also in case of skin contact, of ingestion and of inhalation. According to reports, long-term exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression, CSN dysfunction, hearing loss, and peripheral neuropathy.

The neurotoxic properties of styrene have also been studied and reported effects include effects on vision. Health effects of styrene include irritation of the skin, eyes, and the upper respiratory tract. Acute exposure may also result in gastrointestinal effects. The gas can also lead to Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) document that includes acute toxicity data for styrene.

Styrene is also found in consumer products – cigarettes. Air emissions from styrene-based products include vehicle exhaust, and copy machines. According to several studies on animals, the styrene gas when inhaled can result in changes in the lining of the nose and damage to the liver. However, the effects might be severe in animals as they may be more sensitive than humans to the nose and liver effects.

The incident that took place at a polymers unit, is located in the vicinity of the Naiduthota area near Gopalapatnam. According to several media reports, several villagers fell unconscious on roads while fleeing from the affected areas in the village. More than a 1,000 people in five surrounding villages, in a three km radius, have been reported sick and as many as 1500 people have been evacuated.