3 Hazardous Gases to Watch for In Your Home and Workplace

Propane tanks are one potential source source of hazardous gas in the home

Virtually every form of life on Earth relies on one specific, naturally occurring gas: Air.

The air we breathe is not pure oxygen, but also includes about 78% nitrogen. Likewise, there are many other complex gases found out in nature. Some of these can be extremely hazardous to human health.

Depending on where you live and work, you might be at some risk of exposure to hazardous gases every day. In industrial environments where gases are a known danger, it is easy to take the right precautions. But what about elsewhere in life, including in your own home?

Dangerous industrial gases are often processed to add specific scents, allowing you to recognize when you are in a harmful situation. But other hazardous gases are completely odorless, colorless, and may provide no warning until the symptoms of exposure become severe.

Prolonged exposure can be fatal, and even incidental exposure can sometimes cause complications.

Let’s take a closer look at some common hazardous gases you may find in your home or at work:

smokestacks emitting gases including carbon monoxide

1. Carbon Monoxide

Not to be confused with carbon dioxide, a natural byproduct of human respiration, carbon monoxide has been called “the silent killer” because it is invisible and fast-acting. Carbon monoxide is generated when fuels like oil, coal, and wood are burned. It is one element that makes smoke inhalation so dangerous.

When inhaled, carbon monoxide quickly attaches itself to hemoglobin, the intermediary that provides oxygen to the blood. Blood oxygenation levels drop sharply. The body needs significant time to remove carbon monoxide from the bloodstream – continued exposure results in unconsciousness and death.

Early-stage carbon monoxide poisoning may “come and go” as fuel-burning devices are used, or it may worsen very quickly. Symptoms are often flu-like and include nausea, dizziness, weakness, headaches, drowsiness, and shortness of breath. Carbon monoxide gas sensors should be used to alert homeowners to the gas’s presence and prevent carbon monoxide inhalation while sleeping, which is often fatal.

gas stove with lit burners, stock pot, saute pan

2. Propane

Propane, also known as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), is compressed and stored as a liquid in distinctive reinforced tanks. It is used in a variety of appliances, including heaters and barbecue grills. Propane has an additional “rotten egg” scent added during processing to alert you to propane leaks.

Most people recognize that propane is a fire hazard and handle it carefully. However, it can also cause health complications if inhaled. As with carbon monoxide, propane disrupts the body’s oxygen supply. It displaces oxygen within the lungs and makes it difficult or impossible to breathe.

Inhaling propane often leads to a telltale burning sensation that alerts you to leave the area. Severe symptoms can come on quickly, including convulsions, cough, dizziness, fever, muscle weakness, and irregular heartbeat. It is crucial to get emergency care right away if you inhale propane.

short term radon test kit


3. Radon

Radon is a natural radioactive gas that dissipates harmlessly in the outdoor environment. However, it can become trapped indoors as it naturally rises up from the earth. The gas enters structures through ordinary cracks and holes in the foundation, often resulting in dangerous concentrations.

Radon gas exposure is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon gas has been found in homes, schools, and workplaces. In general, radon gas exposure does not cause acute symptoms. It can take weeks, months, or years for symptoms to develop that can conclusively be traced to exposure.

Like carbon monoxide and propane, radon gas is colorless and odorless. Special radon gas testing kits are used to verify radon levels.

Contact us to learn more about protecting your home and family from hazardous gases.

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