Natural gas is a fossil fuel formed when layers of buried plants, gases and animals are exposed to intense heat and pressure for thousands of years. Natural gas is a hydrocarbon gas mixture consisting mostly of methane, but includes other chemicals such as alkanes, ethane, propane, butane, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and hydrogen sulfide.
Natural gas is found in deep underground rock formations with other hydrocarbons in coal beds. Petroleum is another resource of fossil fuel found with natural gas. Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must be processed to remove impurities. The processing can yield by-products of ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes, hexanes, hydrogen sulfide, helium, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.
The exact composition of natural gas varies from one location to another and from one region of the world to another. However, the components listed herein are the usual components of natural gas with variations found in the exact percentages of composition.
Methane can contain impurities and additives. Radon, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene can be found in methane and natural gas. Mercaptan odorants are also added to natural gas to enable its detection in the indoor environment. Methyl mercaptan can be irritating to the eyes, skin and upper respiratory tract. Exposure to it is more serious for the very young and to those with lung problems.
The use of natural gas in the home for water heating, furnaces, and cooking can be dangerous to the occupants if small leaks exist. Another important exposure to non-combusted gas is the fact that it does not always burn 100% efficiently. Combusted gas from home appliances also produces benzo-a-pyrene, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, carbon black, nitrogen dioxide, and aldehydes.
Some experts claim that the use of natural gas in indoor environments produces more indoor air pollution than second hand cigarette smoke. The British Medical Journal, The Lancet, reported in 1996 that the use of gas appliances in the home was linked to increased asthma, respiratory illness, and impaired lung function especially in young women. This was due to their increased exposure to gas cook stoves.
There is no doubt that the choice, use, and placement of gas appliances is vitally important to the health of the occupants. Exposure to the components of natural gas, unburned or combusted, can affect serious health concerns. Any exposure to carbon monoxide from combusted gas can bind to hemoglobin. This can lead to serious illness. Many of the components of natural gas can become stored in body tissue. This can create sensitivity issues, arthralgias, fatigue, headaches, blood problems, gastro intestinal problems, and central nervous system problems such as neuropathy, immune system dysregulation, and spleen, liver, and lung issues.
Let us help you in the selection and placement of the correct appliances for your section of the country. Let us assist you in making selections which are accommodating to your health issues and sensitivities. Let us help you make decisions which are economically feasible to you.
Let the Environmental Health Center determine if you have a toxic body burden. Let us reduce your symptoms and help you restore your health.