Hazards in caves & mines
Caves are potentially dangerous places. Cavers should be aware of this, but some hazards are less obvious, invisible and may be intermittent in nature. Some of these are described below.
biohazard Leptospirosis (Weil's Disease)
A potentially fatal bacterial infection transmitted in water contaminated by infected animals.
More details available from the BCA and NHS.
science Carbon Dioxide (CO2)
A colourless, odourless gas which can cause an acidic taste in high concentrations.
- increased breathing rate, especially when exerting
- raised heart rate
science Carbon Monoxide (CO)
An odourless, colourless, tasteless gas, toxic at very low levels.
Binds with haemoglobin, reducing the blood's ability to transport oxygen.
Symptoms do not reduce on return to fresh air. More information can be found on the NHS website>.
radiation Radon (Rn)
An odourless, colourless, tasteless gas.
No noticeable short term symptoms, but long term exposure, accumulated over many underground trips, can eventually cause lung cancer.
The BCA has carried out research on Radon in caves.