Bhopal Gas Disaster World’s Worst Industrial Disasters | Centre for Science and Environment Discovers Toxic Chemicals In Drinking Water

Bhopal gas disaster - dark day in the chemical industry history

Article On Bhopal gas disaster

The Bhopal gas tragedy is considered as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters.


The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India. It occurred on the night of 2-3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. The reaction was sped up by the presence of iron from corroding non-stainless steel pipelines.


The resulting exothermic reaction increased the temperature inside the tank to over 200 °C and raised the pressure. This forced the emergency venting of pressure from the methyl isocyanate (MIC) holding tank, releasing a large volume of toxic gases. About 30 metric tonne of MIC was released from the tank into the atmosphere and mixed with the surrounding air to form a gas cloud.


Apart from MIC, the gas cloud might have contained

  • Phosgene
  • Hydrogen cyanide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Hydrogen chloride
  • Oxides of nitrogen
  • Monomethyl amine and
  • Carbon dioxide


Harmful effects of methyl isocyanate

Early effects (0–6 months)


Chemosis, redness, watering, ulcers, photophobia


Distress, pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, pneumothorax


Persistent diarrhea, anorexia, persistent abdominal pain


Increased chromosomal abnormalities


Neuroses, anxiety states, adjustment reactions



6 months onwards


Persistent watering, corneal opacities, chronic conjunctivitis


Obstructive and restrictive airway disease, decreased lung function


Increased pregnancy loss, increased infant mortality, decreased placental/fetal weight


Increased chromosomal abnormalities


A recent study conducted by one of India’s leading think-tanks, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), confirmed presence of toxic chemicals in drinking water and said it is slowly poisoning thousands more people.


The CSE report said that samples taken from around the site were found to contain chlorinated benzene compounds and organochlorine pesticides 561 times the national standard.


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