The three most common toxic gases – hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and methane – can injure and kill, both slowly and instantaneously, at home and in the workplace. They are produced naturally. Where the potential exists, safety procedures and safety devices should be in place.
HYDROGEN SULFIDE: Known as sewer gas or stink damp for its rotten egg smell. Colorless and flammable, in high concentrations it can cause death in just a few breaths. It occurs naturally in crude petroleum, natural gas, volcanic gases, and hot springs, and also results from bacterial breakdown of organic matter.
CARBON MONOXIDE: This gas is odorless, colorless, impossible to see and taste. In low concentrations, CM causes flu-like symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, nausea and fatigue. At high concentrations, it is a killer. It is generated by gasoline powered equipment like motor vehicles, space heaters, gas stoves, and generators. Proper ventilation can reduce risk. In a 2010 Florida tragedy, five young teens were killed in a Hialeah motel room when a car was left running in an abutting covered garage. They were found dead in their room fully clothed. Tobacco smoke generates CM.
METHANE: Like hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide, this gas is colorless. Like carbon monoxide, it is also odorless. In commercial natural gas production, sulfide is added to give the gas a detectable smell. Methane is a principal component of natural gas, and it is also produced by the bacterial decomposition of plant and animal matter. It is not per se toxic, but it can cause death through suffocation by preventing the body’s intake of oxygen.
The best safety procedures involve a combination of prevention, detection, and knowledge. Employees should be informed and provided with adequate safety equipment. In those industries where toxic gas is known to exist, OSHA requires the use of procedures, training, and safety equipment.
In homes, heaters, fireplaces, generators, and other gas appliances should be properly used and maintained. Ventilation should be checked. CM detectors are available.
Where death or injury results from the negligence of a third party, those harmed may be entitled to compensation for their losses through the civil justice system. Although no amount of money can return a loved one lost or bring normal health to the catastrophically injured, monetary compensation can ease the burden during trying times.
We invite you to contact us toll-free at 866-785-GALE or by email to obtain a free, confidential consultation to learn your legal rights.
Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.