A 10-year-study in Bhopal has found that every second person who was exposed to the gas leak 28 years ago has abnormal lung function.
The study carried out by researchers at Bhopal Memorial Hospital & Research Centre and published in the February issue of the Indian Journal of Medical Research of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR),shows that people exposed to the methyl isocyanate leak have a nearly 30 per cent higher chance of contracting lung disease than the unexposed population.
Lead author Dr Sajal De said researchers had studied spirometry (lung function) test records of patients who reported to the hospital between 2000 and 2009,and done a retrospective analysis.
We found that of the 4,782 gas victims studied,50.8 per cent had obstructive patterns,of which 51.8 per cent were suffering from severe to very severe obstruction and 29.3 per cent had mild obstruction, Dr De said.
The spirometry test measures the amount and speed of air inhaled and exhaled to evaluate the capacity of the lungs. Obstructed spirometry tests indicate narrowing of airways,and are commonly associated with lung diseases like asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
While subjects ages ranged from 10 to 60,data indicated the highest relative abnormalities from 20-29. So,the gas victims who were infants at the time of the disaster were possibly more affected by the residual fibrotic changes in lung, says the study.
The study cautions that smoking habits among the young adults exposed to the gas could have had an impact on the findings.