My Encounter with Styrene Chemical way back
(FYI : All about Styrene ; My experiences ; Vizag incident)
● Styrene is a synthetic chemical (monomer) which is mainly used or utilized to prepare Polystyrene (Polymer/Plastic)
● Styrene is a liquid under ambient or normal conditions (please note it is not a gas) but keeps emitting vapours at high temperatures (> 30°) especially during summer time ; hence it is normally stored in a chemical refrigerator under cool conditions.
● Styrene vapours are toxic, highly corrosive, harmful and carcinogenic leading to headache, giddiness, respiratory problems and comatose or coma
● Polystyrene is granular or crystalline powder (looks like sugar crystals), very safe, very useful and value-added polymer with wide range of applications in polymer & plastic industry ; there is a huge market for Polystyrene in India
● As part of my post-doctoral research fellowship, i was assigned to work on Styrene project (epoxidation and polymerization) which was tough to say the least
● During the research work, i started experiencing frequent headaches and my hair started abruptly turning into grey
● One fine day, i visited the library and started reading “Handbook of Chemicals” and got to know all about Styrene
● After couple of days, i submitted a report on Styrene and walked out of the project citing health reasons ; Subsequently i started working on RO (Reverse Osmosis) membranes
● In short, I ran away from an important Styrene project which is not the hallmark of a good scientist ; good scientists do not seek escape from novel research work, however challenging & risky it may be ; I do admit that I am not a genuine scientist !
● For your knowledge :
(1) Vizag chemical leak was not due to gas leak as reported by the entire media but due to leak of vapours from Styrene Liquid tanks resulting from malfunctioning of the refrigeration unit attached to the liquid tanks.
(2) It is true that no technology is 100 % foolproof and no man-made machine is 100 % efficient (Carnot’s law) but this is where you have to regulate/enforce safety protocol and disaster management guidelines !