Is Propane Toxic?

Written on: August 28, 2023

Everything you need to know about gas leaks and propane exposure.

propane safety connecticut Overall, propane is safe fuel, but like with any flammable gas, you need to follow propane safety guidelines, particularly in the unlikely event of a gas leak.

Although propane does not have a smell in its natural form, producers add an odorant to it called ethyl mercaptan or methanethiol. This additive makes it smell like rotten meat, spoiled eggs or skunk’s spray. It should give you the ability to recognize a propane leak fairly quickly. However, we also recommend that you install UL-listed gas detectors to alert you to any propane leaks. (Carbon monoxide detectors, while essential safety devices, will not alert you to a gas leak.)

Seymour Oil & Gas provides propane delivery to countless homes in Brookfield, Fairfield, Bridgeport and other communities in western Connecticut. We can help you assess the risks of propane exposure and know how to respond.

Propane’s Effect on Humans

Firstly, propane has incredibly low toxicity, but inhaling propane vapor is an asphyxiation risk. If there you inhale propane gas, you might experience these symptoms of oxygen deprivation:

Low Exposure Significant Exposure
 Nausea  Pain or numbness in limbs
 Dizziness  Convulsions
 Headaches  Diarrhea
 Drowsiness  Rapid loss of consciousness
 Coughing  Asphyxiation
 Irregular heartbeat  Heart failure

Source: The Propane Education & Research Council

Please note that although liquid propane is non-toxic, it is extremely cold when escaping a tank or cylinder and can cause irritation and even frostbite on your skin.

Propane’s Effect on Soil and Water

Happily, propane does not have a negative impact on soil or groundwater. So, if your underground propane tank happens to leak, you do not need to worry about contaminated soil, plant life or water on your property.

Responding to a propane leak.

While propane may not be toxic, a propane leak poses risks for asphyxiation and explosion. If you smell gas or are alerted to a leak by your gas detector, follow these steps:

  • Extinguish candles or cigarettes and any other ignition source.
  • Get everyone out of the affected area immediately.
  • Please do not use any light switches, thermostats, telephones or other electrical appliances in the affected area, as they can produce a spark.
  • If you can do so safely, close the gas-shutoff valve on the propane tank or cylinder.
  • Once you are safely away, call emergency services and Seymour Oil & Propane.
  • Emergency personnel and our propane technicians will check for escaped propane gas and perform any needed repairs.
  • Even if you don’t smell gas anymore, stay away from the area where you detected it, and don’t attempt to turn on the propane-supply valve.
  • Please wait for our service professional to locate and repair the leak, check all propane appliances and relight your pilots before returning to the area where your smelled gas.

The Seymour Oil & Propane team is always available to discuss your propane needs, including fuel delivery, tank maintenance and monitoring, and premium propane appliances. Do not hesitate to reach out to our technicians with any questions.