At least 11 people were killed and 1,000 affected after poisonous styrene gas leaked from an LG Polymer chemical plant in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam, India. The incident, which happened on the night of May 7th, left people suffocating and collapsing in the streets while they were trying to run away from the deadly cloud.
While 500 people from a 2-mile radius were relocated to another area by the authorities, the concerns about the possible long-term effects of the styrene vapor began to grow.
According to Dr. Randeep Guleria, the director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, those who were the closest to exposure are the ones with a higher chance of experiencing side effects, NDTV reports. Inhaling styrene can affect the skin, the central nervous system causing headaches, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.
The high exposure to this gas is known as “styrene sickness”, which includes pulmonary edema, irregular heartbeat, and can even lead to comas.
However, it is unlikely that the Visakhapatnam gas leak will lead to long-term health effects, says Dr. Guleria in the NDTV interview.
“The gas doesn’t stay for a very long time. The chances of long-term impact are less as the compound metabolizes and leaves the body quickly.”
“This is an acute exposure rather than a chronic exposure. But we will have to follow up and see. As of now, the data doesn’t suggest any significant long-term effects.”