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HUM 111 Together We Stand Letter

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Together We Stand Letter
Have you noticed that you are getting sick lately? A cause for that could be the
local gas company and if you aren’t careful, you and your family could be next. In the
past few years I have started to notice that people in our community are showing signs
of being sick. Normally, this would not be a problem, but several children and adults
were beginning to develop illnesses that were very similar to each other. After
comparing and researching the noticeable symptoms, I realized that much of the
problem could be coming from defects in the construction and development of our
community. The main concern I have is that if left untreated with continued exposure to
the gas, the illnesses will become more severe and can even be fatal. According to gas-
leak.org, small gas leaks throughout your home are virtually undetectable even by smell
(n.d.). This means that your home could be making you sick. Some of those symptoms
can include asthma, depression, eczema, migraines, etc. and will slowly poison
whoever is in the affected area, including pets. People have slowly, but surely become
worse and I fear that our exposure has already been too long. With the exposure to this
poison gradually getting longer each day it goes unfixed, the potential for severe
casualties greatly increases
The gas itself isn’t the main problem, but it is the additive mercaptan that affects
us the most. In addition to it being highly flammable, which brings the risk of explosions
or house fires, in high concentrations it’s also highly toxic and affects the central
nervous system. Long-term exposure can also lead to increased allergies,
gastrointestinal problems, fatigue, pain and discomfort, high red and white blood cell
count, and high cholesterol (gas-leak.org, n.d.). Natural gas, by itself, is odorless.
Mercaptan is the additive that gives gas its “rotten egg” smell and as ironic as it may
seem, mercaptan is added to the gas for easy detection, yet it’s the most harmful part of
using natural gas. While many others safely use natural gas every day, the Material
Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) suggests that it has never been tested at low levels and
long-term exposure (Specialty Gases of America, 2009). Methyl mercaptan also ranks in
the worst 10% of all chemicals based on the IRCH system and has been linked to be a
non-allergenic trigger for asthma (Buteyko Asthma Management, 1999).
As a community, we have to stand up for what is right. This has been plaguing us
for years and now that we understand the cause, the next step is to fight for justice. This
problem will not fix itself and will continue to get worse unless something is done. I don’t
want to wake up and find my son or daughter lying on the floor having an asthma attack
and I’m sure no other parent wants that either. Now it is time to act. This message
needs to spread to as many people as possible. If needed to, do some individual
research and share it with a neighbor or a friend.

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The first strategy I used was paying attention to notice that throughout the years,
more and more people were getting sick. Of those people, most of them were showing
similar symptoms that I was sure couldn’t be coincidence or genetics. One of which was
eczema which is a term for several different types of skin swelling and redness
(Medicine Plus, 2010). I started with researching symptoms like that as a group and
came across articles that suggested a possible cause was a natural gas leak. Gas-
leak.org helped with a lot of the information I used and even included resources that
supported its information.
Knowledge is the biggest thing the community can do in order to develop
solutions to the problem. With a community that can range from a few hundred people
to a few thousand, one person will most likely not make difference. However, if half of
the community is informed about the problem, they have an advantage and can make a
change. Weekly meetings could be held to spread the word and can also benefit by
allowing ideas to be heard and revised. Testing homes in the community is another step
to take. It can actually confirm whether the gas company is to blame or not instead of
basing claims on symptoms and assumptions. Critical thinking should be included as
well. The people involved should make sure they don’t let their emotions affect their
decisions and they need to stay objective in order to find the best solution.
References
Buteyko Asthma Management. (1999). Asthma Triggers. Retrieved November 20, 2010
from http://www.buteyko.co.nz/asthma/triggers/default.cfm.

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Gas-leak.org. (n.d.). Natural Gas Facts. Retrieved November 20, 2010 from
http://gas-leak.org/natural-gas-facts.php
Gas-leak.org. (n.d.). Natural Gas Poisoning. Retrieved November 20, 2010 from
http://gas-leak.org/natural-gas-poisoning.php
Medicine Plus. (2010). Eczema. Retrieved November 20, 2010 from
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/eczema.html.
Specialty Gases of America. (2009). Material Safety Data Sheet. Retrieved November
20, 2010 from http://www.specialtygasesofamerica.com/msds/methyl-mercaptan-
msds.pdf

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