Natural gas is one of the safest sources of energy there is. In Québec, more than 205,000 customers, including a high percentage of schools, hospitals, businesses and large companies, use it every day.
Natural gas is a safe energy and it is not toxic. Medical research has shown that people can breathe air with a natural gas concentration as high as 25% without any harmful effect on their health. It is the lack of oxygen in the air and not natural gas that might cause illness.
In its natural state, natural gas is odourless. Its signature smell comes from mercaptan, a substance added to natural gas in order to be able to detect it. Thanks to mercaptan, natural gas can be detected in the air at concentrations of as little as 0.2%.
If natural gas escapes into the air, it simply rises and dissipates into the atmosphere. Open doors and windows to ensure maximum ventilation. It does not accumulate on the ground, unlike propane and gasoline.
Natural gas does ignite easily. For this to happen, a leak must spring in an enclosed space and the gas must mix with oxygen in the air at a concentration of 5-15%. The temperature must also be extremely high for natural gas to ignite -- 538 °Celsius-- or there would have to be a flame or static electrical discharge caused by a socket. We tell our clients of the importance of using a competent contractor, one of Énergir's Certified Natural Gas Partners, for installing natural gas appliances. The proper installation of natural gas appliances prevents leaks that could cause a natural gas explosion.