The Union Home Ministry on Thursday (May 7) issued an advisory for citizens about things to be done and not to be done, following the styrene gas leak incident at a chemical factory in Andhra Pradesh’s Vishakhapatnam, which claimed the lives of 11 people.
Dos and Don’ts:
- If a person accidentally swallows styrene, give large quantities of mineral water and do not induce vomiting
- In case of contact with styrene, immediately flush the eyes or skin with plenty of clean water for at least a period of 15 minutes, while removing the contaminated shoes and clothes
The advisory added that people working at the chemical factory should participate in all capacity building programmes arranged by voluntary organisations, the government, or by the industrial units. They should get engaged in preparing the disaster management plan and some easy access routes.
- Neighbours should be made aware of the basic characteristics of several poisonous or hazardous chemicals and the first aid required to treat them
- In case of a gas leak, people must be evacuated calmly and quickly, in a direction perpendicular to wind direction, through the designated escape routes
- During evacuation, keep a wet handkerchief or piece of cloth on the face
- Do not consume uncovered food or water
- Wash hand properly and change into fresh clothing after reaching a safe shelter
- Inform the fire and emergency services, police and the medical services from a safe location by calling 101, 100 and 108, respectively
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What is styrene?
Styrene is a flammable, colourless liquid which is utilized to prepare polystyrene plastics, rubber as well as fiberglass. It is used in insulation, pipes automobile parts, etc. According to the advisory, the exposure of styrene is through inhalation, ingestion, or direct skin contact.
Symptoms of styrene exposure:
The common symptoms of styrene exposure include irritation to nose, eyes, and skin, gastrointestinal or respiratory effects. The long term exposure may cause problems related to central nervous system and kidney, or headache, depression etc. The Department of Health and Human Services, USA, has specified styrene to be a human carcinogen.