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April 12, 1985

Bhopal tragedy's repercussions may reach American physicians

JAMA. 1985;253(14):2001-2003. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03350380017002

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The A. he Bhopal, India, tragedy has stimulated moves in the United States that could alter handling of toxic chemicals and dissemination of information about them to the medical profession and public.

Bhopal, of course, came to world attention when methyl isocyanate gas escaped from the Union Carbide Corporation plant there (which now is closed and may be torn down). Some 100,000 persons were exposed to the gas, and—while 1,048 deaths have been confirmed—it is believed that at least 2,500 died.

In the United States, Rep Donald K. Pease (D-Ohio) is putting a bill before Congress that—while directed at banning importation of a suspected carcinogen— contains a clause encouraging international regulation of industrial facilities. At the moment, a company's adherence to any set of international standards is voluntary.

In the meantime, also in the United States, chemical industry leaders admit that the Bhopal tragedy has stimulated a re-examination of practices