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Children of Bhopal Gas Victims Suffer from Deformity

wards and affects an estimated 16,000-20,000 people.

A study carried out by Sambhavna Trust Clinic showed that children conceived and born after the disaster to affected parents were significantly different from children of the same age born to unexposed parents. The children were shorter, thinner, lighter, and had smaller heads, said activist Satinath Sarangi, who runs Sambhavna Clinic that treats the affected in the gas-hit areas.

Also, children of exposed parents showed abnormal growth in their upper bodies that were disproportionately smaller than their lower bodies.

"The problem in the second generation due to gas exposure is one that will affect tens of thousands, and potentially many more in the future, and it needs to be addressed immediately. Yet the government has only very scanty information on this matter and no plans for the health or special assistance needed for them," said Champa Devi another activist. She is the recipient of the American Public Health Association's Goldman Environmental Award for her work among gas victims over the years.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) initiated 18 studies in the aftermath of the Bhopal disaster. However, despite findings of long-term damage, these studies were all prematurely ended within 10 years just as conclusive evidence of damage was beginning to show on the offspring of survivors.

"Most studies done by ICMR were terminated as early as 1989 and the rest by 1994 without reviewing the collected data and pleas for continuing the studies were ignored. The ICMR's full report on Bhopal too has not been released till date," said Sarangi.

"Research done in the past is insufficient and key aspects of the disaster and its aftermath have been ignored in research projects. Now, new issues have arisen necessitating fresh research. This includes exposure to water contamination among those living in the vicinity of the factory site," S
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