The safest substances under certain conditions exhibit unusual properties. Methane belongs to the group of such compounds. Sometimes this gas can harm human health.
When does methane harm? Is methane poisoning a reality or a fiction? And how to deal with a substance that can not be detected?
Where does methane
Methane (chemical formula: CH4) is one of the simplest compounds belonging to the class of hydrocarbons. It is a gas that is odorless, colorless, almost insoluble in water. Methane is practically insoluble in human blood, therefore it is considered harmless.
Methane is found in the chemical industry and in nature:
- as the main component of natural and associated petroleum gases;
it is plentiful in mines and swamp evaporations;
- in industry it is mined from coal;
- it is produced daily in the human body, it is a product of the normal functioning of the intestinal microflora.
By itself, the hydrocarbon is not a threat, does not belong to the group of toxic substances. It is lighter than air, so with an excess quickly rushes up without causing harm to a person. Plus, it does not interact with many chemical compounds. Methane becomes harmful only under certain conditions.
Is methane dangerous
All hydrocarbons adversely affect the human nervous system, leading to various disorders in the body. But methane is not included in the group of especially dangerous due to its physical properties.
What is harmful methane?
- It is explosive, with a gas concentration in the air from 4 to 17% an explosion may occur. Because of the ease of connection, such situations are extremely rare. An explosion is possible indoors with a gas leak.
- Every day in the human body in a small amount of methane produce microorganisms that inhabit the intestines. This gas normally irritates the walls of the large intestine and takes an active part in its motility, contributing to the further advancement of food. But regular stressful situations, an excess of microorganisms that produce methane, leads to the development of chronic intoxication.
- Is it possible to poison methane? Yes, it happens on the production of this gas in people who work for a long time in mines or laboratories, if the safety precautions are not observed.
Methane leads to poisoning if its concentration in the room exceeds acceptable limits. The MPC or the limit of permissible concentration in the working area is 7000 mg / m³. To monitor the composition of the air in the premises at work, special sensors for monitoring methane in the air are installed. And in the production of gas add odorants - substances with a specific odor to detect compounds. Is methane harmful to health? In case of excess of this substance in the air, it can lead to poisoning of the body.
How poisoning manifests itself:
the first symptoms of poisoning resemble asphyxia (choking or feeling short of breath);
- pulse quickens;
- muscle weakness appears;
- drowsiness, lethargy, general weakness;
- signs of methane poisoning include temporary euphoria, when a person laughs for no particular reason, he has elevated mood, rapid speech;
- then euphoria gives way to a sharp decline in physical strength and mood;
- dizziness, marked headaches, sleep disturbance;
- a person is worried about unreasonable nausea, reaching to vomiting due to a disruption of the digestive system;
- if the victim is not given timely medical assistance, pulmonary edema, heart failure, and impaired nervous system may develop.
Symptoms of chronic methane poisoning
This condition develops in people whose work is related to the study of methane or its production. Even a small presence of the compound in the air gradually leads to changes in the work, first of all, of the nervous system. In small quantities with constant exposure to the body, the gas exhibits its weak narcotic effect.
Symptoms of chronic methane poisoning include:
- hypotension, causeless lowering of blood pressure;
- a change in the work of the nervous system that only a neurologist will be able to detect: during the examination a positive eye-heart reflex is detected (while pressing on the eyeballs, the pulse rate decreases);
- chronic fatigue.
Chronic intoxication with this substance also includes a malfunction of the digestive glands due to the increased secretion by the bacteria of the intestine of this compound.
The benefits and harms of methane can be traced in influencing the functioning of the digestive system. Normally, with a balanced diet, methane is secreted by the natural microflora of the intestines and stimulates its contractility. But an excess of gas leads to unpredictable consequences.
- Excessive gas pollution causes bloating.
- Irritable intestinal wall, which leads to belching, pain, constipation.
- At this, the harmful effect of methane does not end there - the work of the digestive glands deteriorates: the pancreas, stomach and liver. There are pains in the stomach and along the bowels, nausea, heartburn.
- The general state of health worsens, the person becomes nervous and irritable, skin itch appears.
The consequences of methane poisoning are different. With chronic exposure to humans, the compound leads to a depressive effect on the central nervous system.
Acute poisoning can result in more serious problems:
- renal impairment;
- inhibition of bone marrow functions, which is manifested in the violation of blood formation processes;
- respiratory failure;
- possible death with a high concentration of it in the air.
In rare cases, it is possible to suspect methane poisoning, since this gas has no distinguishing features that make it easy to detect it in the room. More often in the formulation of the diagnosis help devices, fixing the excess concentration of gas installed in production.
First aid for methane poisoning is to provide oxygen access to the victim. For this you need to take it out of the room on the street. Then you need to unbutton the top buttons in the clothes, remove the tie. In the absence of pulse and breathing, make a closed heart massage and artificial respiration.
There is no specific antidote, so the main assistance should be provided in the specialized intensive care unit of the nearest hospital. Symptomatic therapy is performed there.
Despite the seeming harmlessness, methane can act negatively on a person. A sharp increase in this gas in the air in the absence of oxygen will lead to poisoning. Its consequences depend on the timeliness of first aid.