Yes, sewer gas can make you sick. That’s why it is so important to take any odd smells coming from your sewer seriously. You should also know how to identify potential symptoms of sewer gas exposure, because some sewer gasses are odorless—or damage your sense of smell. Here’s what you need to know about the potential health effects of sewer gas and what to do if you suspect you’ve been exposed.
Which Gases Might Your Sewers Release?
There is a lot going on in sewers, including different types of bacteria which create different gases, including:
- Ammonia: This compound is probably most familiar to you as a part of glass cleaner products. While it can be safe to clean with, exposure to it can be irritating, or even toxic or deadly. It is also dangerous to mix with bleach.
- Methane: When produced in large quantities, methane can create a ire hazard in your home, as it is highly flammable.
- Hydrogen sulfide: This gas is the most common sewer gases, and the cause of the rotten egg smell you might have in your home. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most harmful gases. In high amounts it is poisonous and effects multiple body systems,
- Carbon dioxide:Usually, a sewer produces too little carbon dioxide to be dangerous. However, very high amounts of carbon dioxide can be a serious problem, causing a lack of oxygen in the blood, which could lead to serious health effects and, if untreated, death.
It is important to note that exposure to hydrogen sulfide can impede your ability to smell. So, just because you’ve stopped smelling that rotten egg smell, doesn’t mean that you’re no longer exposed to the gas. That’s why it is important to know the symptoms of exposure to sewer gas too.
Symptoms of Sewer Gas Exposure
Depending on the amount of sewer gas you or your family members are exposed to, your symptoms may vary. While most people will only suffer more mild symptoms, others might collapse, develop difficulty breathing, and exhibit more serious symptoms. In this case, your first call should be to emergency services. If medical or plumbing professional suspect sewer gas exposure then the home should be evacuated and a professional should come to do a ewer inspection and assess the problem as soon as possible.
More mild symptoms you may want to look out for that may indicate sewer gas exposure include:
- Eye irritation
- Throat and nose irritation
- Shortness of breath
- Memory issues
Can Sewer Gas Exposure Be Treated?
People who have been exposed to sewer gas need to do to protect themselves. First, they should seek medical attention for any symptoms they are experiencing, especially if those symptoms are serious. Then, they should have a plumbing professional come to assess how the sewer gas got into the home.
What might be the cause of the sewer gas leak? You may need sewer line repairs, or you may need less invasive work, like fixing the wax ring in your toilet. Your plumber can let you know what kind of work is needed to make your home safe again.