In 1920, its researchers developed an economical way to make ethylene from natural gas, giving birth to the modern petrochemicals industry. Today, Union Carbide possesses some of the industry's most advanced process and catalyst technologies, and operates some of the most cost-efficient, large-scale production facilities in the world. Before divesting them, the chemical giant also owned consumer products Eveready and Energizer batteries, Glad bags and wraps, Simoniz car wax and Prestone antifreeze.
Union Carbide primarily produces chemicals and polymers that undergo one or more further conversions by customers before reaching consumers. Some of these materials are high-volume commodities, while others are specialty products meeting the needs of smaller market niches. The end-uses served include paints and coatings, packaging, wire and cable, household products, personal care, pharmaceuticals, automotive, textiles, agriculture and oil and gas.
The BBC gives the death toll as nearly 3,000 people dead initially and at least 15,000 from related illnesses since, while Greenpeace cites 20,000 total deaths as a conservative estimate.
According to the Bhopal Medical Appeal, around 500,000 people were exposed to the leaking tables. Approximately 20,000, to this date, are believed to have died as a result; on average, roughly one person dies every day from the effects. Over 120,000 continue to suffer from the effects of the disaster, such as breathing difficulties, cancer, serious birth-defects, blindness, gynaecological complications and other related problems.