Stythe gas – also known as ‘black damp’ – can occur in former deep coal mines from the oxidation of the coal and timber left behind. It can cause a number of health issues and can be dangerous in places where oxygen composition is low, and where normal atmospheric air has been displaced.
The risk is greatest when there are sharp drops in atmospheric pressure, leading to former deep mines ‘breathing out’ the gas.
Stythe can come to the surface through old mine access points or through cracks in the underlying rock. It can collect in places like unventilated downstairs rooms and cellars.
Other mine gases such as ‘fire damp’ or methane can also be as dangerous as stythe and, in some concentrated cases, can be explosive.
Stythe & mine gases - how to act
If you think you’re being affected by mine gases, contact the Coal Authority’s 24-hour emergency call out service immediately on 01623 646 333.
The Coal Authority is a government body with a statutory responsibility to deal with surface hazards from past coal mining activities.
If in doubt, contact the emergency services on 999.