What actually floating over the web ?
RR Venkatapuram village near Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh claimed to be encountered with the tragedy of huge scale due to the a leak of gas namely styrene from the factory of LG Polymer.
A few news media such as Dainik Bhaskar in its print edition equated the event even with the Bhopal gas tragedy which witnessed nearly 20,000 death and lacs of exposure to the potent gas namely methyl isocyanate (MIC).
A writer Anand Ranganathan thriugh his Twitter handle shared a basic scientific information about two gases which compares on the toxicity of styrene and MIC.
However there is are mixed reactions on the tweet of the writer as he didn’t explain how this parts per million decides the danger behind..
It simply indicates that MIC only takes 3 Parts/million to affect, however styrene needs a lot more at 700 parts/million to do the same. This means MIC is toxic even with little concentration as compared to styrene.
How much is enough to be fatal ?
Styrene requires in greater quantities to cause damage. Styrene should have atleast 700ppm (parts per million) in air to become fatal.
It also means it takes only 3 parts of MIC in every 1000000 parts to be a threat to life whereas it takes 700 parts of Styrene in every 1000000 parts to affect similarly.
Clearly MIC is approximately 230 times more dangerous.
What exactly PPM means ?
PPM stands for parts of gas per million parts of air. Since there are plenty of gases out there in the atmosphere in even extremely low concentration, hence scientists measures the quantity gases in primarily per million.
It simply means how much there is a mass of something in 1 million molecules of air. It is the ratio of two quantities in the same unit. it may be used for air, water, body fluids, etc
Concentration of chemicals in air is measured in units of the mass of chemical, which can be either milligrams, micrograms, nanograms, or picograms to name a few. So, In every million molecules of air there are 700 molecules of styrene exists.
As we know Oxygen’s percentage in atmosphere (which is a pool of many gases) is 21%, this means we have 21 parts of oxygen in every 100 parts. This is measured in litres and is a percentage function.
So, if we say how much parts of air are there in every million of all the gases together, we simply can multiply 21 with 10000 which gives 210000 litres for every million litres of all the Gases collectively.
What they are and how exposure can affects us ?
Styrene is a colourless or light yellow, flammable liquid
Styrene is generally used in production of plastics and rubber. It is also found naturally though in small quantities in some plants and foods and also in tobacco smoke and vehicle fuel combustion.
By breathing air contaminated with styrene vapours a person can experience headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, tiredness, dizziness, confusion and clumsy or unsteady motion. International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) briefs it as being a carcinogen which explicitly means have the potential to cause cancer, though found in limited cases.
Agency for toxic substances and disease registry (ATSDR) explains Inhalation of Methyl Isocyanate is the major route to it’s exposure. The vapors are readily absorbed through the lungs.
It is dangerous also in the sense that Odors of methyl isocyanate may not provide adequate warning of hazardous concentrations.
Methyl isocyanate is heavier than air; therefore, exposure in poorly ventilated, enclosed, or low-lying areas could result in asphyxiation.
Mechanisms of toxicity have not been clearly elucidated for methyl isocyanate; however, carbamylation of globin and blood proteins may play a role. Persistent respiratory and ocular effects may reflect methyl isocyanate-induced immune dysfunctions since antibodies specific to methyl isocyanate have been demonstrated in the blood of exposed patients.
Methyl isocyanate has not been classified for carcinogenicity