Is sewer gas bad for you?

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    • #278705

      Is chronic exposure to sewer gas bad for your health? I work in a high school science lab and I’m wondering how unhealthy daily exposure to sewer gas is to myself and my students. I’d love any leads that anyone can give me. Thanks.

    • #299113
      John Aldrich1

      MerryMary, in addition to exposure to sewer gas being obnoxious, it sure ‘ain’t’ good for your health, nor the health of your students. In certain concentrations, Hydrogen sulfide, Carbon dioxide and methane can be deadly. I advise that you demand that the maintenance personnel repair whatever is causing this sewer gas exposure. It must be difficult to maintain a ‘Merry’ attitude if you are exposed to these noxious odors all day at school. JWA

    • #299114

      HI Merry,

      Sewer gases comes in many forms But that is not all the good sciencetific stuff we plumbers find in waste and soil lines

      hydrogen sulfide
      a flammable poisonous gas H2S that has an odor suggestive of rotten eggs and is found especially in many mineral waters and in putrefying matter

      hepatitis A
      an acute usually benign hepatitis caused by a picornavirus (genus Hepatovirus) that does not persist in the blood serum and is transmitted especially in food and water contaminated with infected fecal matter — called also infectious hepatitis

      a colorless odorless flammable gaseous hydrocarbon CH4 that is a product of decomposition of organic matter

      Most of the “sewer gases” have been linked to several forms of cancer and other fatal dieases like

      hepatitis B
      a sometimes fatal hepatitis caused by a double-stranded DNA virus (genus Orthohepadnavirus of the family Hepadnaviridae) that tends to persist in the blood serum and is transmitted especially by contact with infected blood (sanatary napkins for example) laying inside the bldg trap.

      There are a lot more “sewer gases” but I think you have gotten the point Good luck.

      Did you know during the 2nd year of plumbing the better apprenticeship programs teach BASIC chemestry relating to all this stuff.

      The gases can also cause can cause neurological cancers which normally wont show up for 15 years or so.

    • #299115

      I am not a plumber, but a chemist (analytical) and I do water quality testing. Sewage, besides having the components named above can also expose your students (and you moreso, since presumably you spend more time in the school than they do) to various microorganisms which can result in other diseases (especially those involving resporatory and brain function). Its well known that many of the gases have a lighter formula weight than molecular oxygen, and will bond to the iron on the heme groups, those causing asphyxiation on the molecular level. Not a pleasant way to live.

      I was going to teach HS chemistry and/or physics, but realized that “those that can’t do, teach”, so I started my own water quality lab, and I work full time doing peptide synthesis.

    • #299116

      Madame Merry: Just consider the source of the gas. How can there be a question in your mind as to the benefit or ill effect to those
      who inhale an aerosol of putrefying
      fecal material.
      There are untold numbers of airborne bacteria and viruses present in the emissions from sewer vents and open sewers.
      The gas that brings you to the realization that all is not well with the air quality (Hydrogen Sulfide)in small consentrations is not of particular concern. It is the host of odorless gasses and organisms that should be of a particular health concern. If you wish to focus attention upon your concern for your self and studends,
      insist that they wear respirators fitted with filters that can filter out .5 micron solids and a activated charcoal filter pad to remove the gasseous hydrocarbons.

    • #299117
      John Aldrich1

      MerryMary, I repeat, get the maintenance personel to fix the plumbing system so that the sewer gasses do not emanate into the classroom! JWA

    • #299118

      Actually, don’t do anything about it, if you look at the news, or watch the show COPS, its usually people HS age, or a little older. So, to keep society safe, eliminate some overcrowding in the world population and prevent another Columbine, let it go. Its your civic duty.

    • #299119
      John Aldrich1

      MerryMary, ignore Richard, sounds like he has synthesized a few too many peptides. He talks like he smokes them after they are synthesized. Peptide joints? :>)

    • #299120

      John, you suggested that she contact maintenance personel. Does that include janitors, porters, etc? After all, they all fall into the same vague term. I once had a chat with someone claiming to be in the “medical field”. Turned out she was a receptionist for a dentist.

      Vague terms are just a way to deny a lack of formal training in the area in which one works.

      BTW: I also have a degree in philosophy

    • #299121
      John Aldrich1

      MerryMary and Richard, Please forgive my vagueness, this is obviously a very technical, and difficult task for a mere building maintenance technician to tackle. Perhaps the School District Board of Directors should call in a Licensed Master Plumber, from a great metropolitan plumbing company, to solve this very technical problem. Maybe an LMP with a big red “S” on his jersey.

      Richard, a degree in Chemistry, AND philosophy? I systhesize, therefor I am. “It figgurs” (;>) JWA

    • #299122
      John Aldrich1

      Richard, Damn, I wish this Bulletin Board had spell check capability. My previous post should read, “I synthesize, therefor I am.” JWA

    • #299123

      Hey Richard don’t feel bad if your REALLY stung out on stuff you could always move to the wilderness dig a hole and say your into private disposal systems as the sticks need to have a place for disposal.

      Just think if you have NO EDUCATION and have no real marketable abilities you too could be a hole consultant especially in area’s with a population of 7 folks per Sq MILE.

      I can see the Manufactured homes now all having their sewerage piping leading to this BIG HOLE that some unemployable designed and being a self professed consultant cant hurt ones self EGO.

      ANYONE can learn private septic systems in about 4 hours IF they can stay awake for the 45 minute “training” video.

      Yup ANY handy Andy candig a hole and say Anaerobic Germs are our friends.
      Richard being a chemist Im sorry to say your too over qualified to dig a hole leave that tast to the fecal consultants LOL

    • #299124

      TiegerLMP: Do you know where I can find some 4th grade dropouts or illegal aliens willing to dig a few holes. I can’t imagine any self-respecting American doing that work,

    • #299125

      Richard WHAT “SELF RESPECT” is actually needed to talk about septic systems? UNLESS the actual designer has a engineering degree FORGET about it. I knew a guy who flipped BURGERS for 30 years THAT didnt make him a chef LOL ANYONE can be a consultant in some aspects where NO skills or formal Education re required. Being a chemist you can design one heck of a system.

    • #299126


      Originally posted by MerryMary:
      Is chronic exposure to sewer gas bad for your health? I work in a high school science lab and I’m wondering how unhealthy daily exposure to sewer gas is to myself and my students. I’d love any leads that anyone can give me. Thanks.

      Thanks guys for your help. I have talked with those in charge regarding the problem for the past three years. I understand (as of last week) that they are putting in exhaust fans into the labs which should vent the sewer gas out. Do you think this will really work? They, for some reason, aren’t going to add any traps.

      By the way, I am sorry that my question has resulted in so much dissension between several of you. I actually am grateful for any advice I can get.

      Thank you all.

    • #299127
      John Aldrich1

      MerryMary, I think those in charge should look into hiring a Licensed Master Plumber to install a proper vent system, with the appropriate traps, or repair the one that is there.

      I think that the exhaust fans will work to the extent that they will exhaust the sewer gasses from the lab, but the gasses are still coming into the lab from the leak in the system. The odorous gasses will be evident in their path of travel from the leak to the inlet vent of the electric fan, so the room will still have sewer gas odors. The installation of electric fans to exhaust the sewer gas that is leaking into the room seems to me to be a wrongheaded approach to permanently solving the problem.

      In this situation I really think that the School District should get a Licensed Master Plumber involved to correctly solve the problem. JWA

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