Hard times ahead for Bhopal gas victims
The Hindu October 1st 2000

One of the longterm effects of methyl-isocyanate gas (MIC) - responsible for the gas disaster that struck Bhopal in 1984 - could be an abnormal increase in cases of malignancy and mutogenetic disorders by the year 2001 and later because it takes about 17 years for malignancy to develop, according to medical experts.

This bleak scenario was projected by the founder and former director of the Medico-Legal Institute and Professor for Medicine and Toxicology, Gandhi Medical College, Dr. Heeresh Chandra, at the Vertical Interaction Course on "Management of Environment for Law Enforcement Agencies" organised here on Friday by the Indian Institute Of Forest Management and sponsored by the Union Home Ministry's Bureau of Police Research Development.

Dr. Chandra, who has conducted hundreds of autopsies on gas victims, quoted from the book HWV Cox Medical Jurisprudence and Toxicology and said the immune system of the gas victims has been drastically affected due to the blood's decreased oxygen carrying capacity. He defined this phenomenon as metabolic hypoxia. It is due to this that the body tissues are not receiving adequate oxygen, he said, adding this was an irreversible damage that would lead to mutogenetic changes and changes in the DNA structure.

Dr. Heeresh Chandra, quoting further from the book said, "systemic effects (on the surviving gas victims) are extensive and include liver damage, kidney damage, methaemoglobinanemia, gross psychiatric changes and neurological deficits. Longterm toxicity is likely to pose a grave problem, because the isocyanate affects the nucleic acids and this may be the potential terratogenic or mutogenic agents.

Dr. Heeresh Chandra siad the tests on the residue found in the storage tank of Union Carbide Corporation plant from where MIC had leaked on the midnight of December 2 and 3, 1984, resulting in the worst "manmade" tragedy and laboratory tests on tissues collected at the post-mortem satge, including those conducted by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) at Chennai, show the presence of at least 17 unidentifiable compounds. This shows that the gas that had leaked as a result of multiple chain reaction was not just MIC, but several deadly poisonous gases and particulate matter, including hydrogen cyanide.