All the Ways a Gas Leak Can Affect Our Health and Put us in Danger

Natural gas is used for cooking and other home appliances, including hot water. According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, about 30.28 TCF of natural gas was used in 2021, which is A LOT! 

Natural gas is odorless; thus, it is hard to tell if there is a leak. Mercaptan is added to natural gas, which makes a gas smell like sulphur or rotten eggs. This makes it easier for residents to recognize a leak and leave the space or take the necessary steps in an emergency. 

Physical Symptoms

Although natural gas is safe to use, gas leak accidents can occur, causing minor or even grave damage to your health. This article discusses how a gas leak can affect your physical and mental health. 

If there’s a slight leak, you may feel symptoms such as; 

  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Nausea and  
  • Irregular breathing 

If you experience any of these symptoms but no rotten egg smell or a hissing sound. There is likely a low level of a gas leak around.  

Inhaling excess gas can lead to deprivation in the amount of oxygen (asphyxia). If the gas leak is higher, then you will experience symptoms like; 

  • Fatigue 
  • Severe headaches 
  • Memory problems 
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Nausea 
  • Loss of consciousness  
  • Suffocation

Other symptoms include, which are not so common; 

  • Flu-like symptoms 
  • Irritation of the eye  
  • Irritation of the throat 
  • Nose bleeding 
  • Pale skin or blistering 
  • Mood changes 
  • Reduced appetite and 
  • Ringing in the ear 

These symptoms may lead to gas poisoning and, ultimately, death. If you experience any of these symptoms, you may be exposed to a gas leak and need to call a healthcare professional as soon as possible. 

Symptoms for Pets

If you have a pet at home, better to keep an eye on them as they may also experience; 

  • Changes in behavior 
  • Lethargy 
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Watery eyes 
  • Vomiting 
  • Breathing difficulty 

Looking out for these symptoms at early stages may help you from a hefty hospital bill. 

Safety Concerns 

Although slight gas leaks are not a big deal. Leaks on a larger scale produce carbon monoxide, methane, and nitrogen, affecting your quality of life.  

We suggest getting your house inspected annually by a registered gas-safe engineer. A gas safety check includes; 

  1. Inspection of all gas appliances along with their installation and ensuring safety from leakages.  
  2. After this inspection, you get a document, a cp12 certificate from your engineer, which mentions that all the gas appliances at your house are safe to use. 

The Major health issue regarding outside gas leaks is that they contribute to smogginess, which provokes respiratory illnesses such as Asthma. The Nitrogen dioxide released causes a range of harmful effects on the lungs, including: 

  • Increased inflammation of the airways; 
  • Worsened cough and wheezing; 
  • Reduced respiratory organ function; 
  • Greater probability of emergency department and hospital admissions 
  • Nitrogen dioxide may even add up to the chances of lung cancer. 

The list does not end here. Natural gas leak affects your mood and brain, and it worsens depression. So, what do all these signs and symptoms tell you?  

Observe The Symptoms

Observe how and when you experience a symptom. Does your headache reoccur every time you enter the home? There are more visible symptoms like; bubbles or a cloud in standing water, evident damage to a gas line connection, and house plants that begin to die suddenly. 

For mild gas leaks, open the windows and make sure all the pilot lights are switched off. For strong gas odors that cause severe symptoms, open the windows and leave the area as quickly as possible. If you have got a leak for some period, there are high chances of explosion as gas is highly volatile.  

Methane leaks from natural gas add to global climate change. Methane is a primary element of natural gas and is a Greater threat to global warming than Carbon dioxide. Though, methane dissipates much more quickly than carbon dioxide in the air. 

What to do in Case of an Emergency?

We will talk about the precautions first: 

  •  Installation of natural gas alarms should be a must. These devices look like smoke alarms and emit loud sounds; if carbon monoxide is detected. A detector around the house should help detect even minor leaks.
  • Besides an alarm, the second thing you should have: is a fire extinguisher. Natural gas can catch fire even by a phone call; if worse comes to worst, react quickly with a multi-purpose fire extinguisher at the site.
  • There is the main gas valve usually outside the house to shut the gas flow. Everyone should know about this valve and how to shut it off in case of a leak to prevent further gas exposure. Even when the flow is cut off, it is still dangerous to get inside the house. Therefore, stay far away and call 911 or the utility company’s emergency number. 

Last Word 

Although natural gas leaks are rare, they can be hazardous and cause lasting effects if neglected. It can happen anywhere around the house. Natural gas leaks induce physical signs and symptoms in people, animals, and even plants. 

People should be aware of natural gas safety and signs of gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning. They should be prepared to tackle an emergency instead of just panicking and doing the opposite, which could be life-threatening. 

Many steps can be taken to prevent gas leaks and their complications, including; scheduling a regular inspection. Be it a boiler or gas pipeline. It is necessary to have them checked at least once a year. Gas leaks are dangerous but can easily be prevented with such minor steps. 

If you are moving to a new house, ask the landlord or the previous tenants for a gas safety certificate or cp12 certificate; otherwise, schedule an inspection yourself before you move in. It is better to stay safe and take precautions first than to regret it later. And awareness of the impact of methane or natural gas leaks is the first step. Stay safe and secure.

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