Methane gas: An invisible danger

When exposed to methane gas, people may experience a range of effects on their health, some of which may be long-term.

It has no odor and no color, and following a massive leak at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, methane caused numerous problems for Porter Ranch residents. Although many have heard of methane, few know what it is or what may happen if they are exposed to it. In order to help protect themselves, however, it is important that people understand the possible symptoms and effects of methane exposure.

What is methane gas?

Methane is a type of common greenhouse gas and is the primary component of natural gas. It is a mixture of carbon and hydrogen. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, methane is produced by raising livestock, among other human activities. It also occurs naturally, particularly in wetland areas, through the anaerobic bacterial decomposition of animal and plant matter.

What are the risk of exposure?

As a result of methane exposure, people may experience a range of effects. When people are exposed to this asphyxiating gas in high concentrations, it may displace their oxygen supply, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This could cause suffocation, which could lead to brain injuries or death.

Additionally, methane exposure may cause weakness, dizziness and headaches. In some cases, people may suffer from nausea and vomiting after coming into contact with this gas. A number of Porter Ranch residents also experienced rashes, nosebleeds and wheezing.

What are the long-term implications?

Due to methane gas exposure and poisoning, people may suffer from a range of long-term effects. A USC News report points out that these could include cardiovascular, respiratory and neurological problems. This includes the development of epilepsy, pneumonia, claustrophobia and heart problems. For some, methane exposure could also lead to memory loss and depression. The lasting effects that people may experience vary based on the type and duration of the exposure, among other factors.

Consulting with an attorney

When people are exposed to methane gas in high concentrations, as was the case in Porter Ranch, they may suffer from a range of medical ailments. These often require medical treatment and, in some cases, time away from work while they get control of their symptoms. Often, this leads to unexpected medical expenses and lost wages. Depending on what caused the exposure, the gas company or others may be held liable for these, and other damages. Therefore, it may benefit those who have been exposed to methane gas to work with a lawyer to understand their options for seeking financial compensation.

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