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Diagnostic Services
at Michigan State University

101 Center for Integrated Plant Systems
East Lansing, MI 48824-1311
Phone: (517) 355-4536
Fax: (517) 432-0899

Natural gas leak in a lawn


Natural Gas Leak in a Lawn
In 2005, a homeowner complained of a circle-shaped problem spot in her lawn that she noticed in late winter. This spot remained well into spring so she submitted a soil sample to our lab wondering whether the dead spot was due to some sort of disease or insect pest. 
Two of the first things we attempt to rule out on every sample are problems related to plant diseases and insect pests. Once these problems were excluded, we analyzed the soil for the presence of contaminants. We were able to detect a high level of polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in the soil. 
PAHs are organic pollutants that can be found ubiquitous in soil via environmental pollution. PAHs are also present in home heating oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, kerosene, oil, asphalt, creosote or other petroleum-based products. In this particular case, the circular problem spot was due to a leak in a buried natural gas line. 

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