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Rick Bates
P.O.Box 4127
Elmira, NY 14904


Indoor Air Quality "Gas Leaks"

Definition:  Natural gas is a combustible mixture of hydrocarbon gases. While natural gas is formed primarily of methane, it can also include ethane, propane, butane and pentane.


Why is natural gas a concern for you as a property owner?

  • Can cause poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

  • Sickness or death from carbon monoxide poisoning

  • At higher concentrations symptoms can include impaired vision and coordination, headache, chest pains, nausea, and dizziness

  • Can cause flu-like symptoms that clear up after leaving home/building

  • Carboxyhemoglobin in blood, inhibits oxygen intake

  • Explosions (although rare, possible)


Where is natural gas found?

  • Residential-heating, cooling, heating water, cooking

  • Commercial-similar to residential uses

  • Electric Generation-power plants

  • Industrial-lighting, waste treatment, base ingredients for products such as plastics, fertilizer, anti-freeze & fabrics

Unique Qualities of natural gas

  • colorless, shapeless, odorless-in it's pure form

  • Combustible-gives off energy

  • Clean burning

  • Most useful of all energy sources

What can be done about it?

  • Make sure gas appliances are installed & vented properly

  • Keep appliances in clean, & good working order

  • Annual inspections by qualified technician

  • Keep all combustible materials away from furnaces, water heaters or other ignition sources

  • Install home gas meter at home centers, $35-$50 (a separate detector is needed for carbon monoxide)


Natural gas is odorless. However, gas companies add a "rotten egg" smell that usually can be easily detected when gas leaks. If you smell natural gas or suspect a gas leak, it is important to act quickly:

  • Leave the premises immediately, opening doors and extinguishing any open flames, if possible.
  • Do not unplug or plug in any electrical appliances, or turn off or on any light switches. This can cause a spark that could cause an explosion.
  • Call your gas company or 9-1-1 from a neighbor's phone. Operating a telephone (including cell phones) in your home can also cause a spark.
  • Do not smoke or light matches near your home. And be careful with some flashlights, as turning them on may cause a spark.
  • Do not re-enter your home until a gas company official has inspected the premises, made any necessary repairs, and deemed it safe.

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