Methane and other site gasses from the ground
Approved document C,Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture, suggests that ‘methane and other gases’ includes hazardous soil gases (other than radon, which is dealt with separately) which originate from waste deposited in landfill or are generated naturally. They may include, gasses such as methane, carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen which can migrate through the subsoil and through cracks and fissures into buildings, where if they build up to hazardous levels cause harm to health or compromise safety:
- Methane is an explosive and asphyxiating gas.
- Carbon dioxide is toxic.
- VOCs are flammable and toxic and can have an unpleasant odour.
They may be apparent as:
- Landfill gas, produced by the action of micro-organisms on biodegradable waste materials, including; methane, carbon dioxide and small quantities of VOCs.
- Elevated levels of carbon dioxide and nitrogen, occurring naturally in coal-mining areas
- Methane and carbon dioxide occurring in organic rich soils and sediments such as peat and river silts.
- VOCs occurring as a result of petrol, oil or solvent spillages.
The assessment of the risk from ground gasses should adopt a tiered approach. A preliminary risk assessment should be undertaken, and depending on the outcome, either a generic quantitative risk assessment (GQRA) or detailed quantitative risk assessment (DQRA), or both, may be necessary.
Where risks are unacceptable then these need to be managed through appropriate building remedial measures or site-wide gas control measures, such as the removal of the gas generating material or 'covering' (placing one or more layers of materials over the site) together and the use of gas extraction systems.
Control measures for non-domestic buildings, which may have a larger footprint, may require mechanical dispersal and ventilation systems, monitoring and alarms. These systems will require ongoing maintenance and calibration.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Brownfield land.
- Building on fill.
- Contaminated land.
- Cover systems for land regeneration - thickness of cover systems for contaminated land (BR465).
- Deleterious materials.
- Ground conditions.
- Landfill tax.
- Pre construction information.
- Radon: Guidance on protective measures for new buildings BR 211.
- Site appraisal.
- Site information.
- Soil survey.
- Solid and liquid contaminants risk assessments.
Featured articles and news
IHBC book review: Charles Barry’s monumental struggle to rebuild the Houses of Parliament.
Read about RSHP's British Museum extension which has been shortlisted for the 2017 Stirling Prize.
Read our introductory article to building a house extension.
More updates from DCMS about the large-scale testing of cladding systems and the number of buildings affected.
UandI secure resolution to grant planning consent for major new regeneration project.
IHBC article considers how heritage is dealt with when infrastructure schemes are authorised.
It was the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years, but to this day the exact construction techniques are a mystery.
Shortlist for the industry's most coveted award announced.
Government responds to Mark Farmer's review of industry, rejecting the call for a levy on clients.
Peter Hansford to examine what wider lessons can be learned from the fire.
Every project is subject to uncertainty. How can construction better understand uncertainty for performance improvement?
MAD Architects reveal their designs for a futuristic campus for electric car manufacturer.
Homebuyers could borrow more with better forecasting of energy bills, according to industry consortium's new report.