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The Bhopal Disaster Due To Air Pollution

The plant

The plant near Bhopal has not been cleaned up yet and Union
Carbide did not pay enough money to the poor people who live
in Bhopal. The area near the plant is still poisoned. The UCIL (Union
Carbide India Limited) plant in Bhopal made pesticides which are
used to kill vermin, but it is usually used in small amounts. When
you use it you should not breathe it in. In Bhopal a gas, which is
contained in a pesticide, leaked out in big amounts. Union Carbide
was in 1984 one of the biggest chemical concerns in the world with
a conversion of 9,5 billions a year. Union Carbide built the plant
in India, because there are many poor people, who do the same job
as the people in the US, but for less money. By that Union Carbide
made much more profit, but the safety at these plants is low.

What happened?

The Bhopal disaster was the worst industrial disaster ever. It

happened in the night of 3rd of December in 1984. At least 15000
people were killed and hundreds thousands are still suffering. The
people of Bhopal were killed by a gas called MIC
(methyl isocyanate), which leaked out of a tank. Union Carbide
India, Limited (UCIL) ran the plant near Bhopal where the gas
leaked out into the atmosphere.


The short term effects were that many

people died and the long term causes are
that many people are still suffering. Many
are blind or have cancer. Many lives could
have been saved, if there had been some
security at the Bhopal plant. Symptoms of methyl isocyanateusually
include chest pain, cough, dyspnea (shortness of
breath), lacrimation, eyelid edema and unconsciousness. These
symptoms progressed over the next 24 to 72 hours. The lungs of
the people were injured, the cardiac arrested and they died.


The plant was not in a good condition. Many of the machines were
already too old. There was another plant in the US, which was build
the same way, but it had modern machines that controlled the gas.
It also had new computers and the workers were informed what to
do, if gas leaks out.

The problems of the inhabitants of Bhopal today

They do not have good houses or clean water. To get fresh

water, they have to walk at least 2 kilometers . Many have illnesses
so they can not carry the water that far. To help the people in
Bhopal Union Carbide should have paid 3 billion dollars, but they
paid only 140 millions. Many things like the refrigeration unit of the
tank in which the MIC was stored in were disabled to save money. If
union Carbide would not have disabled these units a disaster like
this would not have happened that easily and Union carbide would
not have had to pay 140 million dollars. There was also much more
gas in the tank than there should have been in. The doctors were
not informed how to treat people, who inhalated MIC. These are
only some facts about what could have been done to have saved
the lives.
Harmful Effects of Air Pollution:
1. Air pollution affects respiratory system causing breathing difficulties and
diseases such as bronchitis,asthma,lung cancer,tuberculosis and
2. Air Pollution affects the central nervous system causing carbon
monoxide poisoning.CO has more affinity for haemoglobin than oxygen
and thus forms a stable compound carboxy haemoglobin(COHb),which
is poisonous and causes suffocation and death.
3. Air pollution causes depletion of ozone layer due to which ultraviolet
radiations can reach the earth and cause skin cancer,damage to eyes
and immune system.
4. It causes acid rain which damages crop
plants,trees,buildings,monuments,statues and metal structures and
also makes the soil acidic.
5. It causes greenhouse effect or global warming which leads to
excessive heating of earth's atmosphere,further leading to weather
variability and rise in sea level.The increased temperature may cause
melting of ice caps and glaciers,resulting in floods.
6. Air pollution from certain metals,pesticides and fungicides causes
serious ailments.
Lead pollution causes anaemia,brain damage,convulsions and death.
Certain metals cause problem in kidney,liver,circulatory system and
nervous system.
Fungicides cause nerve damage and death.
Pesticides like DDT(Dichloro diphenyl trichloroethane) which are toxic
enter into our food chain and gets accumulated in the body causing
kidney disorders and problems of brain and circulatory system.
Prevention And Control of Air Pollution:Different techniques are used
for controlling air pollution caused by 'gaseous pollutants' and that caused
by 'particulate pollutants'.
Methods of controlling gaseous pollutants:The air pollution caused
by gaseous pollutants like hydrocarbons,sulphur
dioxide,ammonia,carbon monoxide,etc can be controlled by using three
different methods-Combustion,Absorption and Adsorption.
1. Combustion:This technique is applied when the pollutants are organic
gases or vapours.The organic air pollutants are subjected to 'flame
combustion or catalytic combustion' when they are converted to less
harmful product carbon dioxide and a harmless product water.
2. Absorption:In this method,the polluted air containing gaseous
pollutants is passed through a scrubber containing a suitable liquid
absorbent.The liquid absorbs the harmful gaseous pollutants present in
3. Adsorption:In this method,the polluted air is passed through porous
solid adsorbents kept in suitable containers.The gaseous pollutants are
adsorbed at the surface of the porous solid and clean air passes
Methods of controlling particulate emissions:The air pollution
caused by particulate matter like dust,soot,ash,etc, can be controlled by
using fabric filters,wet scrubbers,electrostatic precipitators and certain
mechanical devices.
1. Mechanical Devices:It works on the basis of following:
Gravity:In this process,the particulate settle down by the action of
gravitational force and get removed.
Sudden change in the direction of air flow:It brings about separation
of particles due to greater momentum.
2. Fabric Filters:The particulate matter is passed through a porous
medium made of woven or filled fabrics.
The particulate present in the polluted air are filtered and gets collected
in the fabric filters ,while the gases are discharged.
The process of controlling air pollution by using fabric filters is called
'bag filtration'.
3. Wet Scrubbers:They are used to trap SO2,NH3 and metal fumes by
passing the fumes through water.
4. Electrostatic Precipitators:When the polluted air containing particulate
pollutants is passed through an electrostatic precipitator,it induces electric
charge on the particles and then the aerosol particles get precipitated on
the electrodes.
Some other methods of controlling Air Pollution:
1. Tall chimneys should be installed in factories.
2. Better designed equipment and smokeless fuels should be used in
homes and industries.
3. Renewable and non- polluting sources of energy like solar energy,wind
energy,etc,should be used.
4. Automobiles should be properly maintained and adhere to emission
control standards.
5. More trees should be planted along roadsides and houses.