Visakhapatnam gas leak: Styrene gas and its harmful effect on human body explained; check details

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May 8, 2020 6:08 PM

The central nervous system is affected by exposure to styrene smoke. It is the mucous membrane, which is primarily affected by styrene gas exposure. The styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam triggered acute breathlessness among many men, some of whom were asphyxiated to death.

The styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam triggered acute breathlessness among many men, some of whom were asphyxiated to death.

Visakhapatnam gas leak: Sytrene is the gas that created havoc in Vizag! The spillage of gas from an LG plant in Visakhapatnam came at the worst time for India when the whole country has been gripped in not the Coronavirus crisis. The gas that leaked is styrene and it left at least 11 people dead while putting the lives of more than 100 people under threat. So, what exactly do we know so far about Styrene and how it caused so much damage?

A report in IE explains that Styrene is an organic compound with the molecular structure of the formula C8H8 as shown. It is a benzene analog, (C6H6). It is processed as a liquid in factories which quickly evaporates, and must be held at temperatures below 20 °C.

Styrene is the principal raw material for polystyrene synthesis, or (C8H8)n. Polystyrene, in effect, is a durable material used to make parts of various appliances, such as refrigerators or micro-ovens; automotive parts; and electronic components, such as computers; and also to manufacture disposable cups and food packaging. Styrene is also used as an intermediate for the manufacture of copolymers which are derived from one or more monomer species such as styrene.

Vizag gas leak: How does Styrene affect human beings?

The central nervous system is affected by exposure to styrene smoke. It is the mucous membrane, which is primarily affected by styrene gas exposure. The styrene gas leak in Visakhapatnam triggered acute breathlessness among many men, some of whom were asphyxiated to death.

To hold Styrene stable, it must be kept in gas tanks below 20°C. The temperature needs to be controlled constantly, and any exposure to light or heat will lead to polymerisation. Over the entire shutdown time, a team of 15 engineers and officials stayed in service at the factory to control this. To order to keep the styrene stable, inhibitors must be applied as temperature rises. A styrene storage tank is attached to an inhibitor tank at LG Chem but it has failed to stabilize it in time. The styrene tanks are never loaded into capacity as a safety precaution.

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