Hesperian Health Guides
The Bhopal Toxic Gas Disaster
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On the night of December 2, 1984, in the city of Bhopal, India, a terrible disaster happened. A pesticide factory in a crowded and poor neighborhood of Bhopal leaked many tons of poison gas into the air. The warning system in the factory was turned off and other safety systems were not working, so the community heard no alarms of any kind.
The poison gas killed many people that night. After 3 days 8,000 people had died. But this was not the end of the disaster. In fact, it was only the beginning.
Over the next 20 years, more than 25,000 people died from the poison that remained in their bodies. Many more developed terrible illnesses, including pain and difficulty breathing, constant cough, fever, loss of feeling in their arms and legs, weakness, fear, depression, and cancer. Children and grandchildren of the survivors suffer from severe birth defects, including withered limbs, slow growth, and many different reproductive and nervous system problems. More than 150,000 people have been harmed by the poison gas released that night in Bhopal.