If we’re using the naked eye, all gases are invisible. However, not all gases are created equal. Some gases are colorless, while others have color; some have an odor, and others do not. Nitrogen dioxide, for instance, has a mixture of brown and orange color while chlorine has a mix of yellow and green color.
Meanwhile, gases like radon, methane, and carbon monoxide are colorless, odorless gases. Hence, we can consider these gases as samples of invisible gases because they are much harder to detect. The problem with these invisible gases is that when undetected for some time, they are potentially dangerous to human health and the environment.
The Problem About Invisible Gases
The UN Environment Programme has revealed through satellite imagery that the Earth is covered by invisible gases. Through the satellite Sentinel-5P satellite, levels of gases surrounding the world like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, and ozone have been detected. Detecting the level and concentration of all these gases is crucial because it affects human health and climate change.
High radon levels at home can be dangerous. After cigarettes, inhaling radon is the next leading cause of lung disease, specifically lung cancer. As radon is naturally in the air we breathe, it is usually harmless at low levels; high levels of radon, however, is a different matter.
The risk of having cancer increases when a home has a high level of radon and a household member is smoking. Therefore, the best way to reduce the health risk of radon inhalation is by avoiding smoking cigarettes. At the same time, building a soil depressurization system can help prevent radon buildup at home.
Carbon monoxide is another odorless, colorless gas that can be lethal to your health. As the gas is hard to detect, one will only know about its possible presence it affects one’s health. At low levels, carbon monoxide inhalation can result in headaches, tiredness, and shortness of breath. It can also impair a person’s motor functions.
When a person ingests high levels of carbon monoxide, a person may feel chest pains, difficulty in concentration, dizziness, and poor vision. These same symptoms may be a result of extended exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide. In extreme cases, high levels of carbon monoxide can induce coma, convulsion, or even death to an individual.
As with radon, preventing carbon monoxide at home includes avoiding indoor smoking. Additionally, using machines and equipment that produce carbon monoxide must be avoided indoors. These include gas-powered appliances like lawnmowers and snowblowers.
Aside from these, regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances must be accomplished. Samples of these carbon monoxide-producing appliances are furnaces, water heaters, and gas stoves. Additionally, adding at least one carbon monoxide alarm can help alert the gas levels at home.
Aside from carbon dioxide, methane is another invisible gas that is responsible for climate change. Methane also traps heat on the Earth’s atmosphere like carbon dioxide. However, it is different in the sense that its effects are only felt 20 years after. But after 20 years, methane becomes more potent and can be 80 times stronger than carbon dioxide; this means that methane has more warming power during this period.
Because of this, the UN climate change report stresses the importance of controlling the release of methane into the environment.
Methane is one of the main components of the gas households use for their cooking and heating appliances. In nature, it is naturally produced through volcanic emissions and plant decomposition. But the biggest contributors of methane are the gas and oil industry as well as landfills and livestock.
In the oil and gas industry, methane may be released through leaks from natural gas wells, pipelines, and other equipment. For methane emissions to be tracked globally, satellites and infrared cameras and now being used. This helps regulators have insight into how much methane a natural gas facility releases.
So far, scientists and researchers have monitored that the agriculture, fossil fuel, and coal mining industries are included in the biggest industries contributing to massive methane emissions. However, since the agricultural sector deals with food supply, it may be harder to control production; therefore, it may be harder to control methane emissions. One solution is to encourage people to stop eating meat and livestock; however, this is not easy.
Overall, agencies and organizations around the world believe that the best way to control the emission of methane is by pressuring the oil and gas industry to use methane emission-reducing technology. By doing so, methane emissions can be reduced up to 75%.
Gases are essential
It is undeniable that gases are essential for human survival. We need oxygen to breathe, and through carbon dioxide, plants survive. The real enemy is the excessive production of harmful gases; more often than not, it is in the hands of humans to stop this.