Although natural gas might be the cleanest fossil fuel in the world, it should never be considered an alternative to renewable energy. When natural gas is burned, it produces carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and water vapor.
A wide range of consumer products relies on natural gas, including stoves, clothes dryers, fireplaces, and furnaces. The chances are that at least one appliance in your home or office runs on natural gas. If the energy resource is not handled properly, it can prove to be dangerous.
Understanding the common health, gas safety, and environmental concerns is necessary for playing your role as a global citizen. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get started.
Common Gas Related Hazards
Gas can either be supplied from a storage tank or the main supply. It can even be supplied from a smaller portable cylinder, such as in the case of a worksite. The most commonly used types of gas are mentioned below.
- Natural Gas
- Medical Gases
- LPG Auto Gas (LPGA)
- Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG)
When it comes to using gas, there are a number of risks involved, such as an explosion caused by poorly maintained, overheated, or damaged cylinders, appliances, or pipes equipment. Coming into contact with a hot surface or flame also poses a great risk.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide is an odorless and colorless gas that binds with the hemoglobin in your blood when inhaled. It also reduces the ability of your blood to carry oxygen and can lead to death. Carbon monoxide is produced when gas does not burn properly or is used where there is inadequate ventilation. The following situations increase the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- An appliance is not regularly maintained or fitted by an expert.
- A chimney or flue cannot properly vent the system in case it is blocked.
- There is inadequate ventilation in the area where the appliance is used.
Make sure to hire a gas safety engineer to inspect your property every year after determining the gas safety certificate cost. You must know the risk and symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as mentioned below to avoid harming yourself by continuing to expose yourself to it.
- Stomach and Chest Pains
Gas leaks are more common than you think. As pipes are buried underground and located in walls and ceilings voids or below floors, poor maintenance lead to a buildup of gas and leaks. It increases the possibility of an explosion. In case you think that there is a gas leak, you must do the following.
- Switch off the gas supply or main. However, you must not go below ground or enter the cellars to do this.
- Remove everyone from the vicinity.
- Extinguish sparks and naked flames. But, avoid turning off the lights as it would end up creating a spark.
- Open all the doors and windows.
- Contact your local gas supplier.
You must avoid the following.
- Light matches.
- Go into a confined space underground or enter cellars.
- Switch off or on the lights.
- Use any electrical equipment.
Build Better Wells
A notable environmental concern that needs to be addressed is building better wells. As there are over a million active gas wells in the US alone, it is crucial to prevent air and water contamination of areas near those facilities.
Poor well construction, design, and maintenance increase the possibility of a well blowout or leak. Hence, it is crucial for every aspect of the life cycle of a well to be properly executed, from drilling to plugging to reduce threats to our health, safety, and the environment as a whole.
Water that is produced in the hydraulic fracturing process tends to be rather salty and toxic. This is why it must be safely treated, transported, and disposed of.
If a pipeline leak or wastewater is mishandled, groundwater and farmlands will become contaminated, and it could take decades to clean them. Public health could also be put at risk if wastewater is used for irrigating food crops. It would increase toxicity levels and put public health at risk.
The processing and extraction of natural gas lead to air pollutants leaking into the atmosphere. People who live near gas activities are exposed to air toxins such as benzene, a carcinogen. Besides this, emissions from smog-forming pollutants also cause respiratory illness and should not be taken lightly.
Air pollution is on the rise, and it is making cities across the globe uninhabitable. Cities like Delhi, Beijing, and Lahore experience the worst smog every year. It has become harder for residents of these cities to live, especially ones who are more sensitive to airborne particles.
If no action is taken to combat air pollution, more cities will become uninhabitable, and nobody will be able to venture outside. This would make life a whole lot harder for millions.
Since natural gas is mostly methane, it is a greenhouse gas that is more potent than carbon dioxide. It is leaked or vented from gas facilities which contributes to global warming.
According to extensive scientific collaboration, it was found that US oil and gas facilities release over 13 million metric tons of methane into the air each year. When we factor in global emissions, it is clear that global warming cannot be prevented.
The truth is that everything is linked. We might think that gas only causes air pollution. However, it will continue to play a huge role for decades to come if we do not take strict action. For a sustainable future, gas emissions need to be reduced considerably, and every country needs to strive towards net-zero emissions.
Where Does The Fight For Clean Energy Stands Today?
The world order has been based on oil for a long time now. However, things are heading in the right direction ever since 189 countries joined the 2015 Paris Climate Accord and adopted targets for net-zero emissions by 2050.
The main objective of the accord is to limit global warming to under 2C. Thus, governments are rushing to implement laws to cut fossil fuels and boost clean energy. Geopolitical power was connected to fossil fuels in the past.
Alliances were forged based on the fear of a gas shortage or an oil embargo. But, as clean energy emerges as a viable option, the Middle East and Russia are expected to see a power decline.
In countries like Australia, there are lobbies working to ensure that solar and wind resources are fully utilized. Similarly, President Biden rejoined the Paris Accord after becoming the President of the United States. He has passed a multitude of executive orders to tackle the climate crisis.
There is still a lot more that needs to be done. However, it seems that we are moving in the right direction.
Natural gas plays a huge role in our lives. It allows us to cook food and helps keep us warm during the winter. However, it is important that we understand how it can affect our health and the environment as a whole so that we can support a more sustainable future. From carbon monoxide poisoning to speeding up global warming, we all need to come together to reduce our carbon footprint.
Author: Shoaib provides ghostwriting and copywriting services. His educational background in the technical field and business studies helps him in tackling topics ranging from career and business productivity to web development and digital marketing. He occasionally writes articles for gas safety certs.