Chicago — An American researcher commissioned by the Indian government is working to find out whether a gas leak from a Union Carbide factory in Bhopal, India, that killed about 1,700 people damaged the immune systems in some 200,000 others.

Dr. Meryl Karol, the University of Pittsburg immunologist who is preparing the study, was to present a paper on her research at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Chicago today.

Karol was asked by the Indian government to study the effect of the leak of methyl isocyanate Dec. 3, 1984, from a ruptured valve at the pesticide plant had on the immune systems of those exposed to it.

The study is one of several under way by the Indian government, which has filed suit for unspecified damages in U.S. District Court against Union Carbide on behalf of those killed and injured in the Bhopal disaster.

Karol said in a telephone interview Saturday she did not know: if her study would be used directly in the lawsuit, but said she would be unable to reveal any final results of her study until sometime next month.

“I’ve made an agreement with the Indian Government that the results of my studies will be released in India and the United States simultaneously,” she said.

She said some of the estimated 200,000 people who were injured in the accident may have suffered damage to their immune systems, which could cause health problems in the future.


“What we hope to do is to follow these people over several years,” she said. “If the immune system is affected, there might be other (long term) problems.”

Indian government studies have uncovered evidence the gas leak affected the victims’ sight and respiratory systems, Karol said. However, she said many victims were only mildly exposed, and have recovered.

Article extracted from this publication >>  September 13, 1985