The Harmful Effects Of Styrene Gas, That Leaked From Vizag Plant

Visakhapatnam gas leak: Styrene is primarily used in production of polystyrene plastics and resins. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet smell

The Harmful Effects Of Styrene Gas, That Leaked From Vizag Plant

LG Polymers India makes polystyrene and expandable polystyrene

New Delhi: A chemical leak in a plant of LG Polymers India in Andhra Pradesh's Visakhapatnam district led to hospitalisation of 200 people and 11 deaths. 1,000 more people were affected by the gas leak from the plant left idle because of the coronavirus lockdown, according to senior police officer Swaroop Rani in Visakhapatnam. The plant, operated by LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd, is a subsidiary of South Korea's LG Chem Ltd. LG Chem said gas had stopped leaking from the plant. LG Polymers on its website says it is one of the leading manufacturers of polystyrene and expandable polystyrene in India. The raw material, styrene, is highly flammable and releases a poisonous gas when burnt.

Here are five points on styrenics:

  1. Styrene is primarily used in production of polystyrene plastics and resins. It is a colourless liquid with a sweet smell. Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

  2. Several epidemiologic studies suggest there may be an association between styrene exposure and an increased risk of leukaemia and lymphoma. However, the evidence is inconclusive due to multiple chemical exposures and inadequate information on the levels and duration of exposure, the EPA says.

  3. Chronic (long-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system, such as headache, fatigue, weakness and depression, central nervous system dysfunction and hearing loss.

  4. Polystyrene is a versatile plastic used to make a wide variety of consumer products. As a hard, solid plastic, it is often used in products that require clarity, such as food packaging and laboratory ware, according to Chemical Safety Facts.

  5. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) strictly regulates all food packaging materials, including polystyrene. The FDA's data shows exposures to styrene from the use of polystyrene food packaging products remain extremely low, more than 10,000 times below the safety limit set by FDA.