New Delhi, Apr 7 IBNS | 3 years ago

Survivors of the December 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal were more prone to develop high blood pressure than unexposed people of the same socio economic background, a study has found.

The findings of the recent study were presented by members of the Sambhavna Trust Clinic at a press conference organized on the occasion of the World Health Day on Sunday.

The study was carried out by the community health workers of the Clinic among 195 persons above 30 years age from Rajgarh Colony near the Union Carbide factory and a similar number from 100 Quarters near BHEL Jamboree Grounds.

The study showed that 28 percent of survivors of the disaster were hypertensive whereas in the unexposed population the figure was 23 percent.

Curiously the study showed that 31 percent women were hypertensive in comparison to percent hypertensive men in the gas exposed population.

According to World Health Organisation's 'global health statistics 2012' In India, 23.10 percent men and 22.60 percent women over 25 years old suffer from hypertension. In the unexposed population more men are hypertensive than women.

The study pointed to an alarming fact that 82 percent people in both exposed and unexposed communities were not aware that they were hypertensive.

Untreated hypertension can lead to heart attacks, strokes, and kidney failure. Another health risk identified by the study was the prevalence of obesity particularly among women gas victims.

About 44 percent of the women in the gas exposed population were overweight or obese and percent of such women were hypertensive.

Dr. Mohammad Ali Qaisar, one of the physicians working at the Sambhavna Clinic said that many scientific studies have shown that exposure to pesticide and other toxic chemicals causes hardening and narrowing of blood vessels, called atherosclerosis, that results in high blood pressure in the exposed individuals.

Among the 7,681 gas affected persons over 30 years age registered at the Clinic 3508 (46 percnt) have been diagnosed with hypertension.

More gas affected women (54pc ) than men (33pc ) were found to be hypertensive. It is interesting to see that women in the age group 41 to 50 years were most diagnosed with hypertension compared to men who were most hypertensive in the age group 51 to 60.

Dr. Qaisar called upon the Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation to pay special attention to surveillance, treatment, follow up and health education focused on hypertension in the gas affected population.

On the night of Dec 2/3, 1984, the residents of central Indian city Bhopal became victims of the world's worst industrial disaster when 40 tonnes of methyl iscocyanate (MIC - a highly volatile toxic chemical) stored at the pesticide plant - owned by Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA - was contaminated with water and other impurities.

As a result, a mixture of deadly gases escaped from the factory killing several thousands of people and inflicting grievous injuries on at least 500,000 others.

In February 2001, the Dow Chemical Company took over Union Carbide Corporation-USA but said it is not responsible for the tragedy from a factory it did not operate.

(Posted on 08-04-2013)