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Natural Gas

What is it?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel that is found beneath the earth’s surface. It has no odor, but gas companies add a warning smell to it so that can be easily detected if it is leaking. It consists mainly of methane, which is a highly flammable gas. 

Natural gas can be burned to produce electricity from power plants, and has residential, industrial, and commercial uses. It is used for fuel in some vehicles.

Natural gas is used in furnaces, water heaters, space heaters, pool and Jacuzzi heaters, fireplaces, clothes dryers, stoves, and lighting.

Burning natural gas releases greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

See also: Homes Mines Fuel Industry Power Plants

Where is Natural Gas found?

  • Consumer products – furnaces, water and other heaters, fireplaces, clothes dryers, stoves, and some vehicles

How can I be exposed to Natural Gas?

Natural Gas commonly enter(s) the body through:

Inhalation (breathing)
  • Breathing emissions from home appliances, furnaces, lighting, or vehicles

What happens when I am exposed to Natural Gas?

Exposure to low levels of natural gas can cause:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Irregular breathing

Exposure to high levels of natural gas can cause:

  • Death by suffocation
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Severe headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Memory problems
  • Lack of coordination

Who is at risk for exposure to Natural Gas?

  • Consumers
    • Some homes, consumer appliances and products, and vehicles are fueled by natural gas.

Reduce your risk

If you think your health has been affected by exposure to natural gas, contact your health care professional. 

Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling chemicals. For poisoning emergencies or questions about possible poisons, please contact your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

  • Do you use natural gas in your heating furnace, stove, water heater, or clothes dryer?
  • Do you use appliances or lighting fixtures that run on natural gas?
  • Do you smell gas?
  • If you suspect a gas leak, stop what you are doing and immediately leave the house.
  • From a safe distance, call 911.
  • If you smell a slight gas odor, open windows and doors before leaving.
  • If the gas odor is strong, immediately leave the building.
  • If you suspect a gas leak, do not turn on or off any electrical appliances or light switches, attempt to locate the leak, or use a landline or a cell phone in the house.
  • If you suspect a gas leak, do not smoke or light matches or lighters.
  • Keep children away from appliances and products that are fueled by natural gas.
Additional Resources
  • Natural Gas Safety
    New York City Fire Department
    Resource from the New York City Fire Department that imparts information on how to safely respond to a natural gas leak.
  • Controlling Air Pollution from the Oil and Natural Gas Industry
    Environmental Protection Agency
    Information on the Clean Air Act's regulations for the oil and natural gas industry, which aim to combat climate change and reduce air pollution that harms public health.
  • Natural Gas
    US Energy Information Administration
    Information on natural gas formation from a web resource about energy for middle school students and teachers. This entry includes sources, uses, production and delivery, as well as associated environmental and safety issues.
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