Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Bhopal gas victims may not have got adequate compensation, but they will help scientists on toxicity research

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, June 26: Bhopal gas victims may not have got adequate compensation, but they will soon help groups of Indian scientists to understand the mechanisms of toxicity in humans and evolve biological markers for the killer gas methyl isocyanate.

The Indian Council of Medical Research will take up research work to find out whether there are any long term effects of MIC or methyl isocyanate gas on the Bhopal population either exposed to or affected in the gas tragedy in December 1984. The research will cover three successive generations of the victims.

Now that 26 years have passed since the gas tragedy, the ICMR wants to know if the MIC had really triggered any genetic disorders, growth and development disorders, congenital malformation including low birth weight in the subsequent generations.

The investigations will centre around recorded cases of congenital malformations and/or low birth weights, and delayed developmental disorders, including delayed milestones of the affected members of the family and their sibling.

Other developmental issues like retardation of genitalia and reproductive functions will also be assessed. The study gains significance in the backdrop of reports that initially high incidence of congenital malformations in the wake of the Bhopal disaster was found to be well within the national average.

"Soon after the tragedy health experts and researches were divided in their views. While one group felt that chromosomal alterations and damage in the victims was one-time toxic manifestation, others were of the view that it could be the fore-runner of chromosomal abnormalities. The ICMR work will clarify on this," said senior geneticist Dr MN Khaja.

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