Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest contributor to global warming, however, methane (CH4) emissions and its impact on the environment should not be overlooked. Although methane does not remain in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, it’s much more potent in the short term. Studies indicate methane is 28 times more effective in retaining heat over a long period of time, and a whopping 84 times more concentrated over a short period of time.
As a result, it’s extremely important for industrial facilities to regulate their methane emissions for the safety of their workers and the surrounding communities. Determining how frequently industrial practices should monitor methane emissions helps companies keep the work and surrounding environments safe while also performing day-to-day tasks.
Methane gas is naturally an odorless and colorless gas, which makes it particularly dangerous. Methane exposure, particularly when experienced in high concentrations, can lead to methane poisoning. While it is relatively non-toxic, its primary hazard during exposure is that it functions as an asphyxiant, a similar threat when people are exposed to carbon monoxide. When inhaled, methane displaces ambient air and deprives workers’ bodies of oxygen, making it hard to breathe. While low concentrations are generally not harmful, higher concentrations lead to less oxygen availability and a range of symptoms may be experienced, such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, dizziness, weakness, fatigue, and more. More serious and immediate effects of exposure to high concentrations include emotional responses, nausea and vomiting, fainting or collapsing, convulsions, coma, and death.
Mild exposure over a period of days or weeks can often show relatively few physical symptoms, but still have a serious impact on overall mental health. Long-term effects can include lasting cardiovascular, respiratory, and neurological problems. Those who have been exposed are also at an increased risk of developing memory loss, depression, epilepsy, claustrophobia, and heart problems. Symptoms also onset and escalate more quickly when physical exertion increases due to the increased oxygen needs of the body during physical activity. Prolonged deprivation of oxygen can also cause permanent damage to the brain and the heart.
Methane should be regularly monitored, especially in industrial and oil and gas applications. Otis Instruments values the safety of all workers across a variety of industries and sectors. We offer a variety of Wired and WireFree easy-to-use, robust, and configurable gas detectors capable of detecting both toxic and non-toxic gases for diverse applications. Our innovative products are designed to provide ease of use and implementation to comply with varying demands and regulations. The instruments and devices we create are also focused on achieving ideal conditions for all work environments.
If you have questions regarding gas detection solutions within your application, have additional questions regarding methane gas detection or would like to speak with one of our specialists, contact Otis Instruments today.