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Hydrogen Sulfide



A draft page for collecting and organizing information, questions, and projects related to hydrogen sulfide, also known as H2S.

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable, extremely hazardous gas with a “rotten egg” smell. It occurs naturally in crude petroleum and natural gas, and can be produced by the breakdown of organic matter and human/ animal wastes (e.g., sewage). It is heavier than air and can collect in low-lying and enclosed, poorly ventilated areas such as basements, manholes, sewer lines and underground telephone/electrical vaults. (via OSHA.gov)

Table of contents


Framing the problem

We are transferring these questions to the Questions system -- please copy them into a question

  • Where is this an issue?
  • Who's working on this already?
  • What information is missing, if any? How will it change the situation?
  • What are they key parameters:
    • What intensities & exposure times are harmful to humans or the environment?
    • Where and how can it be detected? by smell range?
    • How long does it take to detect?
    • How fast does it move/change, or how large an area does it affect?
    • What kind of detection? presence/absence? direction of flow? intensity or locating a spot source?
  • What should the output data look like? Graphs, logs, lights, images?
  • What are the data’s uses/outcomes? Legal? Avoidance? Remediation? Regulation?

Where is this an issue?

Here I've ( @warren ) collected some of the notes folks have posted on PublicLab.org about where H2S has been a problem, under the tag #h2s-sites :

Title Author Updated Likes
Gas, some Hydrogen Sulfide escaping from collapsing salt dome @eustatic about 5 years ago
monitoring industrial H2S sources in new orleans area @eustatic about 5 years ago
Map of New Mexico Natural Gas Wells in New Mexico and levels of Hydrogen Sulfide @Sara over 5 years ago
EPA Reinstates Toxics Release Inventory Reporting Requirements For Hydrogen Sulfide @Sara almost 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring In Gas Patch Background @Sara about 6 years ago

Post more on H2S sites - help build out this list by posting your own notes on H2S-affected sites


Detecting H2S

Wikipedia's article, which is pretty well referenced, shows that:

0.00047 ppm or 0.47 ppb is the odor threshold, the point at which 50% of a human panel can detect the presence of an odor without being able to identify it.

This seems to be well below what's cited as a risk to health, but OSHA warns not to use smell as a means to detect it (OSHA.gov):

Can be smelled at low levels, but with continuous lowlevel exposure or at higher concentrations you lose your ability to smell the gas even though it is still present. At high concentrations – your ability to smell the gas can be lost instantly. DO NOT depend on your sense of smell for indicating the continuing presence of this gas or for warning of hazardous concentrations.

Most info I've ( @warren ) compiled here shows 10+ parts per million as when health effects are of concern, but one cites a TWA (time weighted average) of 1ppm -- over 8 hours. See below in the health effects section.

Questions

Some questions about detecting hydrogen sulfide are below.

We are transferring these questions to the Questions system -- please copy them into a question

  • What equipment is available today, and who has access to it? How much does it cost and what is its sensitivity/latency? How much does it weigh and how does it work (air grab sample, continuous flow, soil sample?)
  • Are there alternative means of detecting which are dramatically different/cheaper?
    • silver film tarnishes with exposure to H2S, some sources cite discolored copper coins in someone's pocket as a way to diagnose a high exposure

We're collecting questions about H2S detection - please add your own here:

Title Author Updated Likes
What are the reaction rates of hydrogen sulfide with oxygen versus copper or silver? @gretchengehrke 17 days ago
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke 17 days ago

Ask a question  or help answer future questions


Health effects

Health effects vary with how long, and at what level, you are exposed. Asthmatics may be at greater risk. Low concentrations – irritation of eyes, nose, throat, or respiratory system; effects can be delayed. Moderate concentrations – more severe eye and respiratory effects, headache, dizziness, nausea, coughing, vomiting and difficulty breathing. High concentrations – shock, convulsions, unable to breathe, coma, death; effects can be extremely rapid (within a few breaths).

(Exposure information from OSHA.gov)

Read more about the health effects of H2S on this page


Existing work on Public Lab.org

A range of projects related to H2S have been developed here over the years; we're going to try to organize it better, but for now:

Title Author Updated Likes
Hydrogen sulfide badges by Morphix Technologies @gretchengehrke 12 days ago
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke 17 days ago
(Answered) Methods for or experience measuring workplace hydrogen sulfide gas? @gretchengehrke about 1 month ago
Article on monitoring hydrogen sulfide with a copper pipe @warren 5 months ago
Preparation for Pilot H2S Testing @ErikHanley11 about 2 years ago
Toward calibrating H2S sensors. @JSummers almost 3 years ago
Sensing Hydrogen Sulfide from CAFO Emissions in Poweshiek County, Iowa @sophie about 3 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Photopaper Sensing Tool - Development Notes @ewilder over 3 years ago
Quantifying Airborne Hydrogen Sulfide @JSummers over 3 years ago
Alternate Design for H2S Cannister @deepwinter over 4 years ago
Show 39 more
Interest in Hidrogen Sulfide Sensing @fernandolunav about 5 years ago
Putting together H2S Test Kit @megan about 5 years ago
First Experiment Analyzed @megan about 5 years ago
Easy ways to make precise maps @megan about 5 years ago
Identifying Wells in Field and Experiment Design @megan about 5 years ago
Choosing Test Sites in Aztec, NM @megan about 5 years ago
Gas, some Hydrogen Sulfide escaping from collapsing salt dome @eustatic about 5 years ago
monitoring industrial H2S sources in new orleans area @eustatic about 5 years ago
Field test #2: H2S strip placement in Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans Parish, LA @Shannon about 5 years ago
H2S strips batch 2: New Mexico @Sara about 5 years ago
Safety Precautions for H2S Research @Sara about 5 years ago
Bayou Sauvage Results 1: problems in labeling test strips @Sara about 5 years ago
Bayou Savage Results 2: degree of canister openness @Sara about 5 years ago
Bayou Sauvage Results 2: reflections on fixing process @Sara about 5 years ago
H2S strip batch 1 for testing made 4/26 @Sara over 5 years ago
Excellent Geoscience Fieldtest of Photostrip H2S Detection @Sara over 5 years ago
Map of EPA National Priorities List sites with H2S issues @Sara over 5 years ago
Map of New Mexico Natural Gas Wells in New Mexico and levels of Hydrogen Sulfide @Sara over 5 years ago
Planning for Public Lab H2S screen Experiments-Equipment @Sara over 5 years ago
Materials for Copper Pipe work @Sara over 5 years ago
FOOLING OR REDUCING THE QUANTITY OF H2S (hydrogen sulfide) IN WELL TESTS. @Sara over 5 years ago
Possible sensor for field calibration of photo test strips @megan over 5 years ago
H2S Experimental Set: Draft 1 @Sara over 5 years ago
Planning for Public Lab H2S screen Experiments @Sara over 5 years ago
Procedure for Fixing H2S photographic paper strips @Sara over 5 years ago
Making Glycerol Solution for H2S film Assay @Sara over 5 years ago
Bibliography for Hydrogen Sulfide Research @Sara over 5 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Testing-glove bag @Sara over 5 years ago
H2S film strip test #2 @Shannon over 5 years ago
Prototype for Filmbased Hydrogen Sulfide Testing strips @Sara over 5 years ago
EPA Reinstates Toxics Release Inventory Reporting Requirements For Hydrogen Sulfide @Sara almost 6 years ago
Controlled Testing with B&W Film Hydrogen Sulfide Detectors @jschaffr almost 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Dosimeter @Sara almost 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Testing With Black and White Film @jschaffr almost 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide tarnishing Silver @Sara almost 6 years ago
Conversion from µg/m3 to ppm hydrogen sulfide @Sara almost 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Information on the Gas @Sara almost 6 years ago
Notes on Global Community Monitor Report on Bucket samples from Gas Patch @Sara about 6 years ago
Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring In Gas Patch Background @Sara about 6 years ago


hydrogen-sulfide h2s h2s-sites

h2s-sites: