Effects of breathing small amounts of natural gas for extended periods?

Discussion in 'UK DIY' started by Mike D, Jun 30, 2007.

  1. Mike D

    Mike D Guest

    Does anyone know what are the effects of breathing small amounts of
    natural gas, over a long period? I did a search and couldn't find any
    info.

    Several people (including myself) have noticed a slight smell of gas
    in my house, occasionally, in certain odd locations (like half way up
    the stairs) or just as you enter one upstairs room. I had Transco out
    but they couldn't detect anything. Still, I'm not convinced.

    I've been suffering from extreme tiredness for several months, and
    wonder if it could be caused by breathing small amount of gas while at
    home.

    My house is about 100 years old and has various old redundant gas
    pipes, imbedded in the walls and under the floors, but the only pipe
    which is supposed to be live is teh one going directly from the meter
    to my central heating boiler. And that is all at thoe opposite end of
    the house from where the slight gas smell has been commented on.

    BTW, is natural gas heavier or lighter than air?

    Many thanks,

    Mike D
    Mike D
     
    Mike D, Jun 30, 2007
    #1
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  2. In article <>,
    Mike D <> writes:
    >
    > Does anyone know what are the effects of breathing small amounts of
    > natural gas, over a long period? I did a search and couldn't find any
    > info.


    I think it's harmless, unless there's enough to significantly
    reduce the oxygen concentration, but there would be no question
    of an incredibly strong smell.

    > Several people (including myself) have noticed a slight smell of gas
    > in my house, occasionally, in certain odd locations (like half way up
    > the stairs) or just as you enter one upstairs room. I had Transco out
    > but they couldn't detect anything. Still, I'm not convinced.


    Some boilers often emit some unburned gas from their flue when
    they light. Is it possible there's some boiler flue gas getting
    back in the house?

    > I've been suffering from extreme tiredness for several months, and
    > wonder if it could be caused by breathing small amount of gas while at
    > home.


    That could also be consistent with boiler flue gas getting back
    in the house.

    --
    Andrew Gabriel
    [email address is not usable -- followup in the newsgroup]
     
    Andrew Gabriel, Jun 30, 2007
    #2
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  3. Mike D

    Guest

    Tiredness and smell of gas.

    It *could* be unburnt gas from the boiler, along with carbon monoxide.

    If you haven't done it already, get that boiler checked very soon.
     
    , Jun 30, 2007
    #3
  4. Mike D

    cynic Guest

    On 30 Jun, 22:03, "" <> wrote:
    > Tiredness and smell of gas.
    >
    > It *could* be unburnt gas from the boiler, along with carbon monoxide.
    >
    > If you haven't done it already, get that boiler checked very soon.


    Is there a brick flue adjacent to the areas where you get the
    occasional smell? One (remote) possibility is that there has been some
    deterioration of the flue structure allowing flue products to
    percolate through the plaster and into the living space. Many terrace
    houses have a staircase which backs onto "next door". A possible
    problem might occur from next doors flue and the possibility exists
    that there was no leakage while Transco were present.
    I have in the past been witness to a case involving poor building
    practice allowing leakage into a bedroom from a coke boiler exhausting
    into a brickwork flue with gaps in the mortar and spacing, but
    concealed by plaster. Rare but it led to long term health
    deterioration until it was traced and rectified
     
    cynic, Jun 30, 2007
    #4
  5. Mike D

    Guest Guest

    On 30 Jun,
    cynic <> wrote:

    > On 30 Jun, 22:03, "" <> wrote:
    > > Tiredness and smell of gas.
    > >
    > > It *could* be unburnt gas from the boiler, along with carbon monoxide.
    > >
    > > If you haven't done it already, get that boiler checked very soon.

    >
    > Is there a brick flue adjacent to the areas where you get the
    > occasional smell? One (remote) possibility is that there has been some
    > deterioration of the flue structure allowing flue products to
    > percolate through the plaster and into the living space. Many terrace
    > houses have a staircase which backs onto "next door". A possible
    > problem might occur from next doors flue and the possibility exists
    > that there was no leakage while Transco were present.
    > I have in the past been witness to a case involving poor building
    > practice allowing leakage into a bedroom from a coke boiler exhausting
    > into a brickwork flue with gaps in the mortar and spacing, but
    > concealed by plaster. Rare but it led to long term health
    > deterioration until it was traced and rectified
    >

    Several times I've thought I've had a gas leak. Each time it has been after
    SWMBO has 'creosoted' the fence. there seems to be a slight similarity with
    the smells.


    --
    B Thumbs
    Change lycos to yahoo to reply
     
    Guest, Jun 30, 2007
    #5
  6. On Sat, 30 Jun 2007 21:37:46 +0100, Mike D <> wrote:

    >My house is about 100 years old and has various old redundant gas
    >pipes, imbedded in the walls and under the floors, but the only pipe
    >which is supposed to be live is teh one going directly from the meter
    >to my central heating boiler. And that is all at thoe opposite end of
    >the house from where the slight gas smell has been commented on.


    Old gas pipes can give of the smell of gas -- it's a powerful scent, and a
    little goes a long way.


    Thomas Prufer
     
    Thomas Prufer, Jul 1, 2007
    #6
  7. On Jul 1, 7:58 am, Thomas Prufer <prufer.pub...@mnet-
    online.de.invalid> wrote:
    > On Sat, 30 Jun 2007 21:37:46 +0100, Mike D <> wrote:
    > >My house is about 100 years old and has various old redundant gas
    > >pipes, imbedded in the walls and under the floors, but the only pipe
    > >which is supposed to be live is teh one going directly from the meter
    > >to my central heating boiler. And that is all at thoe opposite end of
    > >the house from where the slight gas smell has been commented on.

    >
    > Old gas pipes can give of the smell of gas -- it's a powerful scent, and a
    > little goes a long way.


    I don't know how deadly the stink additive is but none of the
    paraffins are noxious. Unvented, they seem to have an effect on
    driving ability though, no doubt, copious amounts of the assassin's
    drug of choice: hashish, might be involved there though.

    All paraffins aka alkanes are heavier than air.
    They run from Methane at 4 carbon atoms through to Octane with ten, a
    volatile liquid through to turps at about 16 IIRC, all the way down to
    the really heavy waxes used in tarmac.

    There is no limit to the length of the molecule chain. But the density
    remains about the same all the way through. I have no idea why.

    The long strands seem to have no particular affinity -or more
    importantly aversion, for each other other than as liquids they are
    miscible and as solids their threads remain interwoven -hence
    demonstrating very little of a crystalline matrix.

    It could be argued that hydrogen is the first one in this family but
    of course it would be the first in all the organic families of
    hydrocarbons and be a pointless inclusion except to say that hydrogen
    too is not noxious.
     
    Weatherlawyer, Jul 1, 2007
    #7
  8. Mike D

    Aidan Guest

    On 30 Jun, 21:37, Mike D <> wrote:

    If the tiredness is a symptom of carbon monoxide poisoning, I believe
    a blood test can confirm that.
    If you see your GP, mention your suspicion.

    > My house is about 100 years old and has various old redundant gas
    > pipes, imbedded in the walls and under the floors, but the only pipe
    > which is supposed to be live is the one going directly from the meter
    > to my central heating boiler. And that is all at thoe opposite end of
    > the house from where the slight gas smell has been commented on.


    Also the service pipe from gas main to meter, which they can't test
    with the usual pressure-loss test.
    Possibly it could be from a gas system next door, or gas mains in the
    street; less likely but it has happened.

    BG, Transco ( or whatever they're called now) I've found to be utterly
    useless; they left a leak from their gas service pipes or mains
    (which they had known to be corroded) into my house, until I'd
    replaced my gas installation. Then they lied through their teeth about
    it. They change their name when the bad publicity accumulates to an
    unacceptable level.

    > BTW, is natural gas heavier or lighter than air?


    I'm fairly sure it's lighter, but small leaks usually gets dispersed
    by air movements & convection rather than forming a layer on the
    ceiling.
    Propane and butane are heavier.
     
    Aidan, Jul 1, 2007
    #8
  9. On Sun, 01 Jul 2007 00:23:53 -0700, Weatherlawyer <>
    wrote:

    >All paraffins aka alkanes are heavier than air.
    >They run from Methane at 4 carbon atoms through to Octane with ten, a
    >volatile liquid through to turps at about 16 IIRC, all the way down to
    >the really heavy waxes used in tarmac.


    Naah. Methane's lighter than air, and makes up between 85% and 98% of gas...


    Thomas Prufer
     
    Thomas Prufer, Jul 1, 2007
    #9
  10. Mike D

    Andy Dingley Guest

    On Sat, 30 Jun 2007 21:37:46 +0100, Mike D <>
    wrote:

    >Several people (including myself) have noticed a slight smell of gas
    >in my house,


    Gas isn't meant to leak. If it is leaking, it's likely to be either
    significant enough to be a risk of explosion, or else it's coming from
    the exhaust of the boiler / gas fire not being vented properly. The
    second of these can also have a risk of CO along with it, and low levels
    of that can certainly give the symptoms you describe.
     
    Andy Dingley, Jul 1, 2007
    #10
  11. On Jul 1, 10:00 am, Andy Burns <> wrote:
    > On 01/07/2007 08:23, Weatherlawyer wrote:
    >
    > > All paraffins aka alkanes are heavier than air.

    >
    > density of air ~1.3kg/m^3
    >
    > > They run from Methane at 4 carbon atoms

    >
    > A single Carbon atom with 4 Hydrogen atoms around it
    > density ~0.7kg/m^3
    >
    > > through to Octane with ten,


    What a dunce.
    Sack him!

    > A chain of 8 Carbon atoms with 18 Hydrogen atoms strung along them.
    > volatile liquid but for once you're right, the vapour density /is/
    > heavier than air at ~5.2kg/m^3 hence the vapour recovery being
    > introduced at petrol stations.
     
    Weatherlawyer, Jul 1, 2007
    #11
  12. Mike D

    raden Guest

    In message <>,
    "" <> writes
    >Tiredness and smell of gas.
    >
    >It *could* be unburnt gas from the boiler, along with carbon monoxide.
    >
    >If you haven't done it already, get that boiler checked very soon.
    >

    Err ...

    "I had Transco out but they couldn't detect anything. Still, I'm not
    convinced."


    --
    geoff
     
    raden, Jul 1, 2007
    #12
  13. Mike D

    raden Guest

    In message <>,
    Weatherlawyer <> writes
    >On Jul 1, 7:58 am, Thomas Prufer <prufer.pub...@mnet-
    >online.de.invalid> wrote:
    >> On Sat, 30 Jun 2007 21:37:46 +0100, Mike D <> wrote:
    >> >My house is about 100 years old and has various old redundant gas
    >> >pipes, imbedded in the walls and under the floors, but the only pipe
    >> >which is supposed to be live is teh one going directly from the meter
    >> >to my central heating boiler. And that is all at thoe opposite end of
    >> >the house from where the slight gas smell has been commented on.

    >>
    >> Old gas pipes can give of the smell of gas -- it's a powerful scent, and a
    >> little goes a long way.

    >
    >I don't know how deadly the stink additive is but none of the
    >paraffins are noxious. Unvented, they seem to have an effect on
    >driving ability though, no doubt, copious amounts of the assassin's
    >drug of choice: hashish, might be involved there though.
    >
    >All paraffins aka alkanes are heavier than air.
    >They run from Methane at


    One carbon atom

    I think you need to rethink your organic chemistry - it's fucked

    --
    geoff
     
    raden, Jul 1, 2007
    #13
  14. Mike D

    Owain Guest

    Re: Effects of breathing small amounts of natural gas for extendedperiods?

    raden wrote:
    >> If you haven't done it already, get that boiler checked very soon.

    > Err ...
    > "I had Transco out but they couldn't detect anything. Still, I'm not
    > convinced."


    So get the boiler checked by someone more convincing than Transco.

    Not difficult to be more convincing than Transco.

    Owain
     
    Owain, Jul 1, 2007
    #14
  15. Mike D

    John Rumm Guest

    Re: Effects of breathing small amounts of natural gas for extendedperiods?

    Brian Sharrock wrote:

    > M - Methane
    > I - Illuminating Gases (old term for natural gas)


    Aren't those the same thing?

    (I would have though illuminating gases would have more likely referred
    to man made coal gas etc)

    --
    Cheers,

    John.

    /=================================================================\
    | Internode Ltd - http://www.internode.co.uk |
    |-----------------------------------------------------------------|
    | John Rumm - john(at)internode(dot)co(dot)uk |
    \=================================================================/
     
    John Rumm, Jul 2, 2007
    #15
  16. Mike D

    Ed Sirett Guest

    Re: Effects of breathing small amounts of natural gas for extendedperiods?

    On Mon, 02 Jul 2007 01:58:33 +0100, John Rumm wrote:

    > Brian Sharrock wrote:
    >
    >> M - Methane
    >> I - Illuminating Gases (old term for natural gas)

    >
    > Aren't those the same thing?
    >
    > (I would have though illuminating gases would have more likely referred
    > to man made coal gas etc)
    >


    Natural gas as supplied for fuel is about 90% methane CH4, most of the
    rest being ethane C2H6 and a little CO2 and N2.

    AFAIK the toxicity of Natural gas is quite low; the explosion hazard is
    much more significant long before the toxicity is an issue.

    [Coal] Miners are exposed to methane at around 0.1-0.9% in air (more than
    than that and the electric gets turned off and work stops). Apparently
    breathing methane all day at those concentrations might give you a slight
    headache.

    Manufactured gas, aka town gas, city gas or first family gases are
    extremely toxic as they contain substantial quantities of CO.

    The OP should not worry about breathing tiny amounts of CH4. HOWEVER any
    smell of gas is unacceptable, a large leak smells just the same.



    --
    Ed Sirett - Property maintainer and registered gas fitter.
    The FAQ for uk.diy is at http://www.diyfaq.org.uk
    Gas fitting FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/GasFitting.html
    Sealed CH FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/SealedCH.html
    Choosing a Boiler FAQ http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/BoilerChoice.html
    Gas Fitting Standards Docs here: http://www.makewrite.demon.co.uk/GasFittingStandards
     
    Ed Sirett, Jul 2, 2007
    #16
  17. Mike D

    John Rumm Guest

    Re: Effects of breathing small amounts of natural gas for extendedperiods?

    Ed Sirett wrote:

    > Natural gas as supplied for fuel is about 90% methane CH4, most of the
    > rest being ethane C2H6 and a little CO2 and N2.


    Is the natural gas we have piped naturally in that mixture or is it
    blended that way for a reason?

    > AFAIK the toxicity of Natural gas is quite low; the explosion hazard is
    > much more significant long before the toxicity is an issue.


    Hence the futility of trying to gas yourself in the oven these days...! ;-)

    (and that is without considering the effects of a flame failure device)


    --
    Cheers,

    John.

    /=================================================================\
    | Internode Ltd - http://www.internode.co.uk |
    |-----------------------------------------------------------------|
    | John Rumm - john(at)internode(dot)co(dot)uk |
    \=================================================================/
     
    John Rumm, Jul 2, 2007
    #17
  18. Mike D

    Mike D Guest

    On Sun, 01 Jul 2007 17:18:27 +0100, Andy Dingley
    <> wrote:

    >>Several people (including myself) have noticed a slight smell of gas
    >>in my house,

    >
    >Gas isn't meant to leak. If it is leaking, it's likely to be either
    >significant enough to be a risk of explosion, or else it's coming from
    >the exhaust of the boiler / gas fire not being vented properly. The
    >second of these can also have a risk of CO along with it, and low levels
    >of that can certainly give the symptoms you describe.


    Thanks to all for the helpful replies. The gas smell I and my vistors
    have commented on, always seems to be confined to very limited areas
    within the house, as though a cloud of it is hanging in mid-air. But
    if methane is lighter than air as exoplained in this thread, that
    seems to make it unlikely that it's gas we are smelling. On some days
    I smell it, some days I don't. It seems to make no difference whether
    the central heating is turned on. The boiler doesn't get used much for
    heating tap water either. If I close the door to the offending room,
    and go back in there after 24 hours, the smell has not built up, and
    may just as likely be completely absent.

    I have ordered my own leak detector now, so I will be able to spend
    some time trying to trace it next time I smell it.

    Thanks again.

    Mike D
     
    Mike D, Jul 2, 2007
    #18
  19. Mike D

    Mike D Guest

    On Tue, 03 Jul 2007 01:02:31 +0100, "Dave Plowman (News)"
    <> wrote:

    >I had a smell which I thought was gas. Turned out to be a dead rat...


    That's interesting... my cat *has* been known to bring dead mice into
    the house. All I need now is an electronic dead-mouse finder! It took
    me ages to find the last one. It eventually turned up in a coat
    pocket, of all places. I still can't imagine how it got there. Funny
    how mice keep cropping up in this thread. First 'ha ha mice', now
    'dead mice'...

    Mike D
     
    Mike D, Jul 3, 2007
    #19
  20. Mike D

    Mike D Guest

    On Mon, 02 Jul 2007 20:38:09 +0100, John Rumm
    <> wrote:

    >
    >Hence the futility of trying to gas yourself in the oven these days...! ;-)


    It takes so long, you may as will light up a cigarette while
    waiting...

    Mike
     
    Mike D, Jul 3, 2007
    #20
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