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ACUTE EXPOSURE INFORMATION
- Methyl isocyanate (MIC) is a severe eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritant. MIC exposure, especially large doses, may produce an immunologic response. It may be absorbed through the skin. MIC and its trimer are absorbed via inhalation.
- Most deaths from methyl isocyanate are a result of lung tissue damage. Cyanide poisoning does NOT occur following exposure to pure MIC, and empiric antidotal therapy is not warranted. Effects of cyanide poisoning have been noted but this is most likely due to impurities (Sax & Lewis, 1989).
- Immediate and persistent respiratory symptoms occurred in about 200,000 local inhabitants of Bhopal, India following an inadvertent release of MIC in 1984. Severe irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, choking sensation, and cough were the initial symptoms reported from these survivors. Some of those exposed became weak, fainted, and died within minutes. Defecation, urination, and vomiting with colicky abdominal pains occurred.
- Survivors sought treatment for symptoms of intense burning of the eyes, photophobia, blepharospasm, profuse lacrimation, lid edema, and superficial corneal ulceration.
- Severe dyspnea was common and considered due to focal atelectasis, local inflammation, and acute lung injury.
- Respiratory function and visual acuity has remained abnormal among the persons exposed in the Bhopal incident for at least two years (Kamat et al, 1992) and longer in those of close proximity to the 1984 accident (Cullinan & Acquilla, 1997).
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