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Health Dangers of Gas Grills

By Linda Ray

When used properly, gas grills can provide a good source of energy for cooking. Gas grills are intended for outdoor use or in very well ventilated areas. They are convenient and can be hooked up directly to a main natural gas source or fed by portable containers of gas. Users should take precautions when using gas grills to avoid the health dangers inherent in the appliances.

Fire

When defective, gas grills can cause fires. Hoses can come loose or other parts of the apparatus come in contact with the flames and cause a fire. When drip pans become full, they can also cause fires. Flames can come in contact with people nearby the grill or catch nearby houses or dry grass on fire and lead to additional damage. Blocked pipes, gas leaks and crimped hoses also can lead to fires. Consumers should pay attention to recalls on grills with known defects that cause fires and return the grills or take them in for service. Regular cleaning of drip pans and grease traps can help to prevent burning.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

At high enough levels, carbon monoxide is deadly, report researchers at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The deadly gas is created whenever a gas grill is fired up. Carbon monoxide, or CO, is safe when the grill is operating properly, but when used improperly or in defective grills, it can be dangerous. The CDC reports that hundreds die from accidental CO poisoning every year. Fumes should always be vented outdoors with a gas grill to prevent a buildup of CO. Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include nausea, headaches, confusion, shortness of breath and dizziness.

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Propane Exposure

Propane is an odorless, colorless substance used as fuel in some gas grills. Propane exposure can come from direct contact on the skin and eyes or through inhaling the fumes. Propane is an asphyxiate, cutting off the flow of oxygen through the body. Exposure can lead to suffocation and death. High levels of propane when inhaled can cause unconsciousness, seizures and cardiac arrest. When it touches the skin, liquid propane causes frostbite conditions. Even low levels of propane exposure can cause headache, nausea, numbness of the arms and legs and vomiting. Long-term effects could include weight loss, conjunctivitis, memory loss and skin discoloration.

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