Natural Gas ? a look at its effects on the body

Last week?s natural gas leaks in a number of houses in town prompted the Tumbler Ridge News to investigate the effects that natural gas have on the human body. What we found was a wide range of reactions that range from mild headaches and flu like symptoms to severe allergic responses that can completely debilitate an individual.

The initial problem with natural gas is that, once inhaled, it begins to replace the oxygen that is supposed to be in your lungs. As a result a person become oxygen deficient and it begins to compromise all of the organs that rely on oxygen rich blood to function properly and to survive. This includes the brain, liver, kidneys and, of course, the lungs.

For healthy adults the effects of inhaling the gas may well begin with a headache as the brain struggles to cope without enough oxygen. Other symptoms include may include nausea and fatigue. Left unchecked and uncorrected, continued exposure can be far more serious.

On the web site they note that the possible consequences run from severe headaches and vomiting to unconsciousness, convulsions, and cardio respiratory failure. The site also claims that children can be even more impacted by the substance and could sustain neurological disorders and brain damage through prolonged exposure.

For people who suffer from chemical sensitivities the news is not good. The web site carries a report completed by Karen McAllister, B.Sc. M.E.S. and Helen Lofgren, M.A. who did their work in 1997 related to the Sable Island natural gas pipeline project. In their executive summary they noted that natural gas, ?as one of the most important sources of indoor air pollution and sensitizing agent.? They also claim that natural gas, ?contributes to the development and exacerbation of chemical and environmental sensitivities.?

In short, the authors found that not only do people with chemical sensitivities suffer badly when exposed to natural gas, they also found that it set back the body?s ability to deal with the effects of other chemical substances as well.

The Allergy & Environmental Health Association seems to support the findings in the report completed by McAllister and Lofgren. The Association claims that natural gas is ?the most important source of indoor air pollution responsible for generating illness in 47,000 patients, surpassing even pesticides or tobacco. For the chemically susceptible individual, this may be the worst form of fuel. Their web site can be found at

If you suspect that you have a natural gas leak in your home be sure to contact your provider and have your residence properly tested.