Natural gas is colorless, tasteless and odorless, making it difficult to detect. That’s why Peoples puts the safety additive mercaptan in natural gas, giving it a rotten-egg odor and making it easier to detect.
Mercaptan can be a useful indicator of a natural gas leak. However, you may not be able to smell this odorant if you’ve been exposed to it for long periods of time or if other odors mask the smell. Mercaptan also may be stripped from the gas due to chemical and physical processes, in an effect known as odor fade.
ALL Peoples pipelines have odorized gas, but it is important to note, not all gas is odorized.
So never rely on your nose alone to detect a natural gas leak. Instead, use your combustible gas indicator (CGI) to be certain a flammable atmosphere does not exist. And be alert for other visual and auditory gas leak warning signs, including:
- Dirt being blown into the air
- Dead vegetation in an otherwise green area
- A dry spot in an otherwise moist area
- Fire coming from the ground or appearing to burn above the ground
- Water bubbling or being blown into the air
- Roaring, blowing or hissing sounds
- A damaged connection to a gas appliance
- An exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster
- A fire or explosion nearby
- Environmental washouts