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Children of Bhopal Gas Victims Suffer from Deformity

Medical research is desperately needed, especially into the possible genetic and reproductive after effects, of the lethal gas leak in Bhopal exactly// 22 years ago that killed more than 3,000 people instantly and thousands more in subsequent years.

Despite the neurological, hormonal and mental health problems that the survivors are facing besides the genetic damage to the children born to survivors, these crucial areas have been severely under-studied, allege rights activists, who say, "This has lead to unsystematic treatment of gas victims."

"Lack of research into the possible genetic and reproductive ramifications of gas exposure, and now of exposure to contaminated water, have seriously marred efforts to respond to the effects of poisonous gases on the next generation in those affected by the gas leak," said activist Rashida Bi who is a gas victim herself and associated with the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).

On Dec 2-3 night in 1984, 40 tonnes of lethal Methyl-Iso-Cyanate gas spewed out of the Union Carbide Corporation's pesticide plant here. The tragedy also left thousands maimed for life from inhaling the poisonous gas.

Women who were pregnant during or following the disaster had extremely high rates of spontaneous abortion. A 1985 study by Medico Friends Circle (MFC) found that in addition to spontaneous abortion and stillbirths, pregnant women exhibited diminished foetal movements and menstrual disturbances. Foetuses that survived the gas disaster suffered from severe malformations. Birth defects continue to occur among families affected by the gas leak and contamination of water at a higher-than-average rate even now.

Union Carbide allegedly constructed the factory knowing that the storage and treatment methods for waste were likely to fail and contaminate ground water. According to local groups monitoring the water quality, contamination from the factory has now spread to 16
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