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Is Methane Toxic? What You Need to Know
Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Methane is one of most useful chemicals ever discovered. It's used to keep us warm and keep the world around us bright. It's also naturally occurring, forming as a result of decomposition.

As with every chemical we discover, safety is a major issue. Certain questions need too be asked, such as the following: Is methane toxic? Is it dangerous in any other way? How do you know if you've been exposed to it?

The truth is that methane and the human body's reaction to it is quite complicated, and there are additional risks to consider. Read on, as we'll go into more detail about that in this article.

Is Methane Toxic?

Is Methane toxic to humans? Are there any circumstances when exposure to methane could be fatal?

The answer to both of these questions is technically yes. However, methane poisoning is rare, let alone fatal methane poisoning. It typically only affects people at very high doses, at least 15% concentration in the air.

To put that in perspective, the air we breathe is about 21% oxygen. The rest is mostly nitrogen gas, which the body can't even absorb. To experience serious affects, you'd need to breathe almost as much methane as you do oxygen.

Methane and Friends

While methane is fairly harmless on its own, it's often used in tandem with other chemicals that are. Among these dangerous chemicals are mercury, lead, ammonia, arsenic, formaldehyde, and others.

A few of them can be found in sewer gases, along with methane. Some are the result of fracking, which also produces methane.

Methane and ammonia can also be found in landfills. However, the ammonia makes up a small portion of the gases released, while methane and carbon dioxide make up more than 90%. However, landfills aren't known to poison people.

Combustion

Though methane isn't toxic, it does come with one other major risk. It's highly flammable and can react with oxygen in small spaces to ignite or explode.

Its high combustibility is one of the main reasons methane is used in so many different types of fuel. A form of it is even used in rocket fuel.

When discussing the dangers of methane, accidentally causing a fire is more likely than being poisoned. For this reason, it's important to shut off the gas if you think there might be a methane leak, just like any other type of gas leak.

One of worst-case scenarios for a natural gas explosion is when it happens underground. In 2014, for instance, this occurred in the Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung (Gow-shong). Thirty-two people were killed and over 300 were injured.

Is Methane Toxic

Is methane toxic? High amounts of it can be, but you're not likely to encounter that much in your lifetime. It's other chemicals and fire hazards that you should be more concerned about.

There's more to methane than the potential dangers to humans. It has a lot of uses in society, and several implications for the environment.

If you want more information and advice about the water and gas that run through your home please, browse the rest of our site. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.

Our goal at ATI is to help provide our customers with the knowledge needed to ensure a safe and healthy environment. Toward this goal, we strive to develop and produce the highest quality instruments available. Our commitment to continuous improvement of analytical sensing systems is the key to our steadily expanding monitoring capability, and provides our users with the power of reliable information.

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