Are there dangers of gas in telecommunications? 

The telecommunication industry contains includes cable providers, internet service providers, satellite providers and telephone providers and confined spaces. Even simple above ground termination boxes may contain gas hazards that is generated from the cables runs underground. Gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide can run through the cable trunking and appear when the termination box is opened. 

Fixed systems are also required in “hub sites” and remote buildings. These are locations where cables are terminated and junctions or take off points are put into the networks. The danger risk can occur when a worker is sent to do carry out tasks in these locations, that may not have been accessed for a period of time. All telecommunications companies have these in abundance. 

What are the Dangers?

Those working in the telecommunications industry are at risk from many different dangers, all of which could cause harm to their health and safety. Falls from heights are a possibility due to the location of operations from various elevated vantage points, such as communication towers. Therefore, engineers working in the sector are required to secure harnesses whilst ascending telephone poles to check the cables, obviously with suitable training to do so. 

Workers are also at risk due to their proximity to microwave and RF radiation, known as non-ionizing radiation. Working amongst, or near to, electromagnetic waves can lead to severe long-term health issues, such as cancer and leukaemia, although unproven. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and chronic fatigue are also found in individuals who are exposed to heat waves over a long period of time. Whilst little is proven linking disease to these adverse environments, awareness of them and minimising the risks that could lead to adverse effects is a well-known safety principle. 

Electrical issues such as fluctuating voltage and associated malfunctions and short circuits, put workers at risk of electrocution. Training and proper PPE can help protect workers from these hazards. 

Gas Hazards and Risks 

As there are many confined spaces in the telecommunication industry workers are more at risk from the presence of hazardous and toxic gases here. Hazardous gases can also be linked to seemingly-simple above-ground termination boxes. Gases such as methane, carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide sometimes travel through the cable trunking, and therefore, when the termination box is opened, a build-up of these gases can be released. 

Fixed systems in the telecommunication sector also pose a gas risk, specifically in “hub sites” and remote buildings. These locations are dangerous, where cables are terminated and junctions or take off points are put into the networks. The danger risk can become present when a worker is sent to carry out tasks in locations that may not have been accessed for a period of time. This is very common in the telecommunication sector, where the trend towards more reliable equipment results in a reduce need for intervention. Although a positive, increased risks such as these, and the presence of toxic gases that can harm human health needs to be managed and mitigated. This is why it is so important to make sure that all workers have access to the proper gas detection equipment. 

Enclosed or partially enclosed spaces with high levels of methane in the air reduce the amount of oxygen available to breathe and therefore can cause mood changes, speech and vision problems, memory loss, nausea, sickness, facial flushing and headaches. In more severe cases and prolonged exposure, there may be changes in breathing and heart rate, balance problems, numbness, and unconsciousness. There is also a risk of fire as methane is highly flammable. 

Carbon monoxide (CO) consumption also poses serious health issues to workers, with those ingesting the toxic substance facing flu-like symptoms, chest pain, confusion, fainting arrhythmias, seizures, or even worse health effects for high or long lasting exposures. Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) poisoning causes similar issues, as well as delirium, tremors, convulsions, and skin and eye irritation. High concentrations of H2S can produce extremely rapid unconsciousness and death. 

Our solution 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include Tetra 3 and T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard and Xgard Bright. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the telecommunication industry our panels include Gasmaster 

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in telecommunication visit our industry page for more information. 

Transportation and Key Gas Challenges 

The transportation sector is one of the largest industries in the world, spanning a variety of applications. The sector offers services concerned with the movement of people and cargo of all types, across air freight and logistics, airlines and airport services, road and rail, transportation infrastructure, trucking, highways, rail tracks, and marine ports and services. 

Gas hazards during transportation  

The transport of dangerous goods is regulated in order to prevent, accidents involving people or property, damage to the environment. There a numerous gas hazards including the transportation of hazardous material, air conditioning emissions, cabin combustion and hangar leaks.  

The transportation of hazardous materials poses a risk to those involved. There are nine classification areas specified by the United Nations (UN) including explosives, gases, flammable liquids and solids, oxidising substances, toxic substances, radioactive materials, corrosive substances and miscellaneous goods. With the risk of an accident occurring being more likely when transporting these materials. Although the biggest cause for concern within the industry being the transportation of non-flammable non-toxic gas is asphyxiation. As a slow leak in a storage container can drain all of the oxygen in the air and cause the individuals in the environment to suffocate. 

Leaks within aircraft hangars and fuel storage areas of highly explosive aviation fuel is an area that must be monitored to prevent fires, equipment damage, and at the worst fatalities. It is essential to choose a suitable gas detection solution that focuses on the aircraft rather than the aircraft hangar, avoids false alarms, and can monitor large areas. 

Not only is it the external environment that faces gas risks in transportation, those working in the sector also face similar challenges. Air conditioning emissions poses a gas hazard threat due to the burning of fossil fuels leading to a subsequent emission of carbon monoxide (CO). high levels of CO in a confined area such as a vehicle cabin, of more than the normal level (30ppm) or an oxygen level below normal (19%) can result in dizziness, feeling and being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. Therefore, proper ventilation in these spaces with the assistance of a gas detector is paramount to ensuring the safe of those working in the transportation industry.  

Similarly, in the air sector cabin combustion and fuselage fires, in the central portion of an airplane, poses a real threat. Although flame retardant materials are applied, if a fire does start the cabin’s trim and fittings can still generate toxic gases and vapours that could be more dangerous than the fire itself. Inhalation of harmful gases caused by a fire in these environments tend to be the main direct cause of fatalities.  

Transportation Standards and Certifications 

Each mode of transport, (road, rail, air, sea and inland waterway) has its own regulations but they are generally harmonized with the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE). The Hazardous Materials Transportation Act (HMTA), enacted in the USA in 1975, states that regardless of the type of transportation, any company whose goods fall into one of the nine categories specified as hazardous by the UN, must comply with the regulations or risk fines and penalties. 

Those working in the transport sector in the UK must comply with the requirements laid out in the UN Model Regulations which assigns each dangerous substance or article a specific class that correlates how dangerous it is. It does this via the packing group (PG) classification, according to PG I, PG II or PG III. 

From an European standpoint the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) governs the regulations on how to classify, pack, label and certify dangerous goods. It also comprises vehicle and tank requirements and other operational requirements. The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (2009) also is relevant in England, Wales and Scotland. 

Other relevant regulations include the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Navigation (ADN), the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) and The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Technical Instruction 

Our solution 

Gas detection can be provided in both fixed and portable forms. Our portable gas detectors protect against a wide range of gas hazards, these include T4x, Clip SGD, Gasman, Tetra 3, Gas-pro, T4. Our fixed gas detectors are used where reliability, dependability and lack of false alarms are instrumental to efficient and effective gas detection, these include Xgard, Xgard Bright, IRmax. Combined with a variety of our fixed detectors, our gas detection control panels offer a flexible range of solutions which are able to measure flammable, toxic and oxygen gases, report their presence and activate alarms or associated equipment, for the transportation industry our panels include Gasmaster and Vortex 

To find out more on the dangers of gas hazards in transportation visit our industry page for more information.  

What causes Hydrocarbon Fires?  

Hydrocarbon fires are caused by fuels containing carbon being burned in oxygen or air. Most fuels contain significant levels of carbon, including paper, petrol, and methane – as examples of solid, liquid or gaseous fuels – hence hydrocarbon fires. 

For there to be an explosion risk there needs to be at least 4.4% methane in air or 1.7% propane, but for solvents as little as 0.8 to 1.0% of the air being displaced can be enough to create a fuel air mix that will explode violently on contact with any spark.

Dangers associated with hydrocarbon fires

Hydrocarbon fires are considered highly dangerous when compared to fires that have ignited as a result of simple combustibles, as these fires have the capacity to burn at a larger scale as well as also having the potential to trigger an explosion if the fluids released cannot be controlled or contained. Therefore, these fires pose a dangerous threat to anyone who works in a high-risk area, the dangers include energy related dangers such as burning, incineration of surrounding objects. This is a danger due to the ability that the fires can grow quickly, and that heat can be conducted, converted and radiated to new sources of fuel causing secondary fires. 

Toxic hazards may be present in combustion products, for example, carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen cyanide (HCN), hydrochloric acid (HCL), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and various polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) compounds are dangerous for those working in these environments. CO uses the oxygen that is used to transport the red blood cells around the body, at least temporarily, impairing the body’s ability to transport oxygen from our lungs to the cells that need it. HCN adds to this problem by inhibiting the enzyme that tells the red blood cells to let go of the oxygen they have where it is needed – further inhibiting the body’s ability to get the oxygen to the cells that need it. HCL is a generally an acidic compound that is created through overheated cables. This is harmful to the body if ingested as it affects the lining of the mouth, nose, throat, airways, eyes, and lungs. NO2 is created in high temperature combustion and that can cause damage to the human respiratory tract and increase a person’s vulnerability to and in some cases lead to asthma attacks. PAH’s affects the body over a longer period of time, with serve cases leading to cancers and other illnesses. 

We can look up the relevant health levels accepted as workplace safety limits for healthy workers within Europe and the permissible exposure limits for the United States. This gives us a 15-minute time weighted average concentration and an 8-hour time weighted average concentration. 

For the gases these are: 

Gas  STEL (15-minute TWA)  LTEL (8-hour TWA)  LTEL (8hr TWA) 
CO  100ppm  20ppm  50ppm 
NO2  1ppm  0.5ppm  5 Ceiling Limit 
HCL  1ppm  5ppm  5 Ceiling Limit 
HCN  0.9ppm  4.5ppm  10ppm 

The different concentrations represent the different gas risks, with lower numbers needed for more dangerous situations. Fortunately, the EU has worked it all out for us and turned it into their EH40 standard. 

Ways of protecting ourselves

We can take steps to ensure we do not suffer from exposure to fires or their unwanted combustion products. Firstly of course, we can adhere to all fire safety measures, as is the law. Secondly, we can take a pro-active approach and not let potential fuel sources accumulate. Lastly, we can detect and warn of the presence of combustion products using appropriate gas detection equipment. 

Crowcon product solutions

Crowcon provides a range of equipment capable of detecting fuels and the combustion products described above. Our PID products detect solids and liquid-based fuels once they are airborne, as either hydrocarbons on dust particles or solvent vapours. This equipment includes our GasPro portable. The gases can be detected by our Gasman single gas, T3 multi gas and Gas-Pro multi gas pumped portable products, and our Xgard, Xgard Bright and Xgard IQ fixed products – each of which has the capability of detecting all the gases mentioned.