METHANE: WHAT ARE THE HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES?
By Matt Hammer  |   July 7th, 2015
   
Methane is classified as a simple asphyxiant (impairs normal breathing) and explosion hazard. Methane is not known to be toxic and consuming water that contains methane does not present a health hazard. In addition, exposure to methane is not known to increase the chance of any type of cancer.
 
Methane is lighter than air and free methane gas may accumulate within an enclosed space such as a wellhead, subsurface well vault, or within a poorly ventilated basement or crawl space where it could present a risk of explosion if allowed to build up to concentrations above the Lower Explosion Limit (LEL).  The LEL is the lowest concentration capable of producing a flash, fire or explosion.  This concentration in air for methane is approximately 5.0% (50,000 parts per million (ppm)).  When oxygen levels fall below 18% due to displacement by methane, methane can result in asphyxiation (i.e., impairs normal breathing).  Methane dissolved in groundwater below its solubility (~28 milligrams per liter (mg/l)), is not flammable, however, at concentrations that exceed solubility, it can be ignited.   
 
For more information and resources you can download our Methane Fact Sheet HERE
Matt Hammer, Senior Project Manager
Matt has nearly 20 years of consulting experience in water resources and environmental investigation and remediation.  He has worked with clients in the oil and gas sector, the industrial sector, and with state and federal agencies.  His experience includes site characterization, predictive numerical modeling, data management and emergency response.  Matt’s training and specialization is in quantitative hydrogeology, including aquifer test design, and in numerical and analytical groundwater modeling.
 
He holds a Master of Science, Geological Sciences (Specializing in Hydrogeology) from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Science, Geology from Miami University.
 
 
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