Image via Les Chatfield on Flickr

As European market leader in drain and sewer cleaning machines, RIONED knows that noxious sewer gasses are more than a big stink – they're a serious concern on the job. Sewer gasses are a complex mixture of toxic and non-toxic gases, formed primarily through the decay of household and industrial waste. Sewer gas can include hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, chlorine bleaches and gasoline. It's not only toxic, it's combustible. A sewer gas explosion can send manhole covers flying!

After centuries of controlling water and sewer waste challenges, there is a silver lining: POWER. A sewage treatment plant in Bristol, UK, Wessex Water uses methane gas that it refined from the waste treatment process to actually power the facility. And with additional power left over, the utility converted a Volkswagen Beetle to run on human waste! The "Bio Bug" is the first car in the UK to run on byproducts of sewage processing. If it's successful, Wessex Water has plans to build a whole fleet of them!

But even if you have your own Bio Bug, you still need to be aware of potential sewer gas when working. Gas risks include Hydrogen sulfide poisoning, dizziness, nausea and headaches. This gas smells like rotten eggs, even at extremely low concentrations. In enclosed areas it can cause illness, unconsciousness and death quickly without warning. Sewer gas can quietly enter buildings through floor drains, plumbing roof-vents that are clogged, or even through cracks in the foundation. The nature of the industry and the work that we do requires workers to always stay alert to sewer or septic gas odor issues, and treat potential methane gas (CH4) discharge as the danger that it is - an explosion hazard and a fatal possibility through asphyxiation.