In our society today, many dangerous chemicals are produced and transported. Because of the vast use of these chemicals, more and more chemical accidents with huge loss of human life are getting reported. In Bhopal, India, accidental acute inhalation exposure to methyl isocyanate caused the deaths of about 3,800 people and adverse health effects in greater than 170,000 survivors. Pulmonary edema was the most common cause of death in most cases. Survivors continue to exhibit damage to the lungs and eyes. Reproductive effects and an increase in the number of stillbirths and spontaneous abortions were noted in the survivors. EPA classifies methyl isocyanate as a Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity.
Methyl isocyanate is an organic compound, synonyms are isocyanatomethane, methyl carbylamine, and MIC. Methyl isocyanate is an intermediate chemical in the production of carbamate pesticides. Methyl isocyanate is a colorless, flammable liquid which is soluble in water to 6–10 parts per 100 parts, but it also reacts with water.
A highly toxic material, it is extremely hazardous to human health. This compound is a skin irritant and can cause permanent eye damage. Methyl isocyanate attacks the respiratory system, eyes, and skin. It affects the lungs and bronchial airways and can cause permanent eye damage, and in the worst case, death. This compound is extremely flammable. When lit it gives off irritating or toxic fumes (or gasses) in a fire.
Quantifying the concentration of methyl isocyanate becomes an absolute essential. Technological and Industrial development provide us with many tools to face such emergencies and prevent them. Gas chromatography (GC) is one of several core techniques for chemical analysis and is commonly used in analytical laboratories worldwide. Gas detectors are now being used in a wide variety of applications for process and quality monitoring as well as safety and environmental compliance. But conventional gas detectors or monitoring devices do not have specific chemical sensors to correctly measure the compounds.
zNose® a breakthrough electronic nose technology is developed and patented by Electronic Sensor Technology. An ultra-fast GC with electronically variable sensitivity controls that can be used to quantify the concentration of methyl isocyanate. A comprehensive library of compounds and their odors based on retention time indexing to n-alkanes vapor standards is an integral part of system software. The sensitivity of the measurement is handled by the detector sensitivity and vapor sampling. Retention time is considered solely for compound identification.