The Adverse Effects of Natural Gas Flaring


Natural gas is a combination of hydrocarbon gases which principally consists of methane. It also includes other gases like propane, ethane, and butane. At times, it may also contain hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen.

Natural gas is used as fuel for cooking, generating electricity and heating purposes. However, it is not just limited to just being used as a fuel. We use it in making products like plastics, fertilizers, soap, and other chemicals.

Gas Flaring:

Gas flaring is the burning of excess gas which collects as a result of oil drilling and extraction. It is present in shales, oil wells, landfills, and gas wells. In an oil refinery, flare stacks are principally used to burn off the excess gas which is released by the valves during a pressure build up.

This pressure release mechanism is essential as it takes the weight off the equipment when they are under immense stress. These relief valves are designed keeping the safety protocols in mind. So, it is essential that they are tested thoroughly before the operation. It is more appropriate to turn to where you can get high-quality ball valves for your convenience.

The gas passes through different pipes known as flare headers to a vertical pipe from whence it exists. The gas incinerates with the help of a flame before escaping into the atmosphere. Steam is sometimes injected to decrease the creation of black smoke. It neutralizes the color to opaque white color.

When too much steam is present, then the gas may escape into the atmosphere without burning. This phenomenon is known as ‘over steaming.’ The pilot light is lit continuously, thereby keeping the system ready.

To keep the system running, a small amount of gas is always burning, like a pilot light in a geyser. It keeps the system ready for emergencies in case there is ever a need to burn excess gas.

Flaring is one of the most intense energies and ecological problem which the world faces today. Environmental consequences related to gas flaring have been known to cause a significant effect on local inhabitants. It can be both mentally and physically.

The Effects of Gas Flaring

Climate Modification:

The process of gas flaring has grave repercussions on climate change. We are causing global warming by burning up fuels such as oil, gas, and coal. According to projections by numerous scientists, it is going to get worse with each passing decade.

The changing climate is quite worrisome for the developing economies since they have limited resources to adapt to these changes. The carbon dioxide emissions are off the charts. Since many consider it to be highly unnecessary to burn useful gas, conversely, releasing unburnt gas into the atmosphere can be even more dangerous as one of its component known as methane is the second leading cause of the greenhouse effect.

Effects on Agriculture:

The burning of gas and the resulting fumes contain sulfur dioxide, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. It gives rise to air pollution which comes down in the form of acid rain. These toxic waste acidify the topsoil, hence draining soil from nutrients. They form chunks and solidify the ground; the earth cannot absorb air this way.

It has seen that vegetation does not grow in the vicinity of the flare burn, due to the immense heat and acidity in the soil. The resulting change in temperature affects the growth of the crops as well. During the season, the plants tend to wither, have stunted growth or darken in color.

Acid Rain:

The most hazardous part of flaring is the release of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide into the air, as this comes down as acid rain. Acid rain is generally speaking the combination of moisture with SO2 and NO2 to form nitric and sulphuric acid, respectively.

When they come down, these mix with the water source to contaminate the surrounding areas. They damage marine life in lakes and streams. The plant’s beings to wither, becoming unusable. The destruction is to such an extent that even the cement and paint on the buildings begins to erode.

The effect on human health is also severe as it causes eyes and skin irritations. People have been known to develop breathing problems.

Air and Land Pollution:

The release of gas into the air results is air pollution. It is harmful to both animal and plant kingdom. Humans can try to shield themselves from it, but one way or another we get exposed. When the gas does not go through the complete circle of combustion, the carbon monoxide passes into the air. It is even worse than carbon dioxide.

It is a complete waste of precious fuel, as these gases can be put to use in different industries. Instead, they are adding to the harmful effects on the environment.

Health Repercussions:

The effect on human health is very profound. Gas flaring is directly responsible for different breathing problems. It is known to cause cancer, neurological problems, and developmental challenges to the kids. Other issues like irritation in the skin, eye, and lungs also occur.


The loss of billions of dollars each year as a result of the burning of useful gas is quite regretful. Since much of the gas flaring is due to lack of infrastructure, it is a colossal waste. As this gas can solve all the energy crisis which we face today.


Gas flaring has more damaging effects than a constructive one. It contaminates the atmosphere and also disturbs the whole ecosystem. The international community of scientist believes that gas flaring is an intentional waste which we can effortlessly stop. We can use these resources elsewhere to overcome the challenges there. There are a lot of countries in the world which are suffering from an energy crisis.

Moreover, the constant release of gas into the atmosphere is one of the primary cause of global warming. Thus, we should consider ways and means to stop flaring and conserve as much energy as we possibly can.

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