Editorial Feature

Detecting Gas Leaks Early - Why is it Important for the Environment?

Mr.PK / Shutterstock

Gas leak detection in transmission pipelines is vitally important for safe operation. Delayed detection can endanger human life, property and the environment.

What is a Gas Leak?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel found beneath the Earth’s surface and has numerous applications. Commonly used to produce electricity and fuel for vehicles, it can also be used in furnaces, space heaters, pool heaters, water heaters, stoves, lighting and fireplaces.

Gas and oil pipelines are the safest and most economical method of transporting natural gases and energy sources. There are high standards in building these networks to ensure they are safe, reliable and efficient. If these pipelines are properly maintained there will be no leaks; however, leaks can result from factors such as corrosion and accidents.

Health Hazards of Gas Leaks

Natural gas has no color or odor, making leaks extremely hard to detect. When inhaled, the symptoms of exposure include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, breathing problems and eye and throat irritation.

However, exposure to high levels of gas can lead to serious complications, including loss of consciousness, lack of coordination and death by suffocation. It is therefore imperative gas leaks are detected early to prevent serious health consequences among not only workers in plants, but also nearby residents.

On average, 17 people die each year due to gas leaks in the United States. They also cause about $133 million in property damage annually.

Environmental Hazards of Gas Leaks

Detecting and repairing methane leaks from plants, stations and pipelines using advanced equipment and proper testing protocols can help reduce 1.70 to 1.80 million metric tons of methane loss each year.

Gas leaks waste a valuable source of energy, and even a small gas leak can gradually buildup an explosive concentration of gas. Aside from causing explosion hazards and fire, gas leaks can kill vegetation and release harmful greenhouse gases (usually methane) to the atmosphere, further contributing to the ongoing climate change problem.

The drilling and extraction of natural gas from wells and its transportation in pipelines may lead to methane leakage. Methane is 34 times stronger than carbon dioxide in trapping heat over a 100-year period. Subsequently, it is 86 times stronger over two decades.

Early Detection of Gas Leaks Important for the Environment

Pipeline systems deteriorate progressively over time. When this happens, corrosion can occur which increases the probability of failure. Termed as fatigue cracking, natural gas can leak into the air causing various health problems and damage to the environment.

Detecting gas leaks early will help prevent methane’s negative effects on both human health and the environment. However, pipeline networks cover a large area making it difficult to maintain and monitor gas leaks.

Gas leaks are a persistent challenge, but one way to monitor them is through mapping. Maps show the location of leaks and repairs and are updated regularly. Immediate action must be taken when a new leak is dicovered to prevent further build-up of the harmful gases in the air.


Environmental Health Concerns and Toxic Chemicals Where you Live, Work, and Play. (2019). https://www.nlm.nih.gov/

Environmental Defense Fund. (2019). https://www.edf.org/climate/methanemaps/how-to-fix-problem

Kalubu, L., Kaijage, S., & Sinde, R. (2014). An overview of pipeline leak detection and location systems. Pan African International Conference on Information Science, Computing and Telecommunications. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/266557667_An_overview_of_pipeline_leak_detection_and_location_systems

Jackson, R., Down, A., Phillips, N., Ackley, R., Cook, C., Plata, D. & Zhao, K. (2014). Natural Gas Pipeline Leaks Across Washington, DC. ACS Publications. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es404474

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author expressed in their private capacity and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited T/A AZoNetwork the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and conditions of use of this website.

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Written by

Angela Betsaida B. Laguipo

Angela is a nurse by profession and a writer by heart. She graduated with honors (Cum Laude) for her Bachelor of Nursing degree at the University of Baguio, Philippines. She is currently completing her Master's Degree where she specialized in Maternal and Child Nursing and worked as a clinical instructor and educator in the School of Nursing at the University of Baguio.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Laguipo, Angela. (2022, September 24). Detecting Gas Leaks Early - Why is it Important for the Environment?. AZoCleantech. Retrieved on June 14, 2024 from https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=921.

  • MLA

    Laguipo, Angela. "Detecting Gas Leaks Early - Why is it Important for the Environment?". AZoCleantech. 14 June 2024. <https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=921>.

  • Chicago

    Laguipo, Angela. "Detecting Gas Leaks Early - Why is it Important for the Environment?". AZoCleantech. https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=921. (accessed June 14, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Laguipo, Angela. 2022. Detecting Gas Leaks Early - Why is it Important for the Environment?. AZoCleantech, viewed 14 June 2024, https://www.azocleantech.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=921.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this article?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.