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Hydrogen Sulfide

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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 :

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 Comments
Is there more information on the "Corrosion Coupon" hydrogen sulfide test kit? @warren over 2 years ago 1
What lab tests are available for hydrogen sulfide, and how much do they cost? @warren over 2 years ago 4
What are different commercially available hydrogen sulfide detection methods? @warren almost 3 years ago 3
Does your state have air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 0
Are there occupational exposure rules limiting exposure to hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 1
Are there air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 1
How to select a site for hydrogen sulfide testing? @warren almost 3 years ago 3
How can we safely try out and evaluate a hydrogen sulfide test? @warren almost 3 years ago 4
What's the best setup for a copper rod or copper plate test for DIY hydrogen sulfide detection? @warren almost 3 years ago 6
Can we determine hydrogen sulfide concentration, or a threshold presence/absence using the copper pipe method? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 0
What is the hydrogen sulfide concentration range that can be monitored using a copper tarnish method? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 1
Effective low-cost water filters to remove hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 2
What methods are available for doing air grab samples for hydrogen sulfide? @stevie almost 3 years ago 2
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke about 3 years ago 1
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Ask a question  or help answer future questions on this topic


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 Comments
Copper Strip Test Preparation Using Solvents @ErikHanley11 over 2 years ago 1
Two Rounds of Copper Rod Test Making @ErikHanley11 over 2 years ago 3
Response to Alternative Copper Sheet Preparation Method on Public Lab @ErikHanley11 over 2 years ago 0
Qualitative Time Lapse of Copper Corrosion @ErikHanley11 over 2 years ago 4
Copper Rod to Copper Sheet Discussion @ErikHanley11 over 2 years ago 0
Can Bio-char products absorb CAFO gases like Hydrogen Sulfide or Ammonia? @zengirl2 over 2 years ago 3
Is there more information on the "Corrosion Coupon" hydrogen sulfide test kit? @warren over 2 years ago 1
What lab tests are available for hydrogen sulfide, and how much do they cost? @warren over 2 years ago 4
How to Help Citizens Affected by Factory Farming? #waterquality #airquality #CAFO #factoryfarms @zengirl2 almost 3 years ago 1
What are some options for copper materials to make a copper plate test kit? @warren almost 3 years ago 3
Help collect environmental sensors + probes on a shared list @warren almost 3 years ago 0
What are different commercially available hydrogen sulfide detection methods? @warren almost 3 years ago 3
Can you use rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover for prepping copper for Hydrogen Sulfide test? @zengirl2 almost 3 years ago 16
How to select a site for hydrogen sulfide testing? @warren almost 3 years ago 3
How can we safely try out and evaluate a hydrogen sulfide test? @warren almost 3 years ago 4
Training in odor identification? @sara almost 3 years ago 1
What's the best setup for a copper rod or copper plate test for DIY hydrogen sulfide detection? @warren almost 3 years ago 6
Can copper sulfide and copper oxide products be precisely visually identified? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 5
How quickly do copper sulfide and copper oxide form under different environmental conditions? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 0
What is the hydrogen sulfide concentration range that can be monitored using a copper tarnish method? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 1
Copper Sheet Hydrogen Sulfide Detection Activity @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 15
Effective low-cost water filters to remove hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke almost 3 years ago 2
What methods are available for doing air grab samples for hydrogen sulfide? @stevie almost 3 years ago 2
Hydrogen sulfide badges by Morphix Technologies @gretchengehrke about 3 years ago 3
What are the reaction rates of hydrogen sulfide with oxygen versus copper or silver? @gretchengehrke about 3 years ago 0
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke about 3 years ago 1
Methods for or experience measuring workplace hydrogen sulfide gas? @gretchengehrke about 3 years ago 2
Article on monitoring hydrogen sulfide with a copper pipe @warren over 3 years ago 0
Preparation for Pilot H2S Testing @ErikHanley11 about 5 years ago 0
Toward calibrating H2S sensors. @JSummers almost 6 years ago 1
Sensing Hydrogen Sulfide from CAFO Emissions in Poweshiek County, Iowa @sophie about 6 years ago 6
H2S Photopaper Processing notes @ewilder over 6 years ago 2
Hydrogen Sulfide Photopaper Sensing Tool - Development Notes @ewilder over 6 years ago 2
Quantifying Airborne Hydrogen Sulfide @JSummers over 6 years ago 5
NU Darkroom Setup @Clarke_Brian over 7 years ago 0
Alternate Design for H2S Cannister @deepwinter over 7 years ago 3
Interest in Hidrogen Sulfide Sensing @fernandolunav almost 8 years ago 3
Putting together H2S Test Kit @megan about 8 years ago 2
First Experiment Analyzed @megan about 8 years ago 2
Easy ways to make precise maps @megan about 8 years ago 0
Identifying Wells in Field and Experiment Design @megan about 8 years ago 0
Choosing Test Sites in Aztec, NM @megan about 8 years ago 0
Gas, some Hydrogen Sulfide escaping from collapsing salt dome @eustatic about 8 years ago 0
monitoring industrial H2S sources in new orleans area @eustatic about 8 years ago 1
Field test #2: H2S strip placement in Bayou Sauvage NWR, Orleans Parish, LA @Shannon about 8 years ago 1
H2S strips batch 2: New Mexico @sara about 8 years ago 0
Safety Precautions for H2S Research @sara about 8 years ago 4
Bayou Sauvage Results 1: problems in labeling test strips @sara about 8 years ago 4
Bayou Savage Results 2: degree of canister openness @sara about 8 years ago 1
Bayou Sauvage Results 2: reflections on fixing process @sara about 8 years ago 2
H2S strip batch 1 for testing made 4/26 @sara over 8 years ago 3
Sample Images from Fieldtest of Photostrip H2S Dection Method @MSGonzales over 8 years ago 5
Excellent Geoscience Fieldtest of Photostrip H2S Detection @sara over 8 years ago 0
Map of EPA National Priorities List sites with H2S issues @sara over 8 years ago 0
Map of New Mexico Natural Gas Wells in New Mexico and levels of Hydrogen Sulfide @sara over 8 years ago 0
Planning for Public Lab H2S screen Experiments-Equipment @sara over 8 years ago 0
Materials for Copper Pipe work @sara over 8 years ago 2
Summary of Lionel Milberger’s Copper Test @megan over 8 years ago 0
FOOLING OR REDUCING THE QUANTITY OF H2S (hydrogen sulfide) IN WELL TESTS. @sara over 8 years ago 0
Possible sensor for field calibration of photo test strips @megan over 8 years ago 0
H2S Experimental Set: Draft 1 @sara over 8 years ago 0
Planning for Public Lab H2S screen Experiments @sara over 8 years ago 0
Procedure for Fixing H2S photographic paper strips @sara over 8 years ago 0
Making Glycerol Solution for H2S film Assay @sara over 8 years ago 0
Copper rod test for H2S @Sharon Wilson over 8 years ago 2
Bibliography for Hydrogen Sulfide Research @sara over 8 years ago 1
Hydrogen Sulfide Testing-glove bag @sara over 8 years ago 4
H2S film strip test #2 @Shannon over 8 years ago 2
Prototype for Filmbased Hydrogen Sulfide Testing strips @sara over 8 years ago 3
EPA Reinstates Toxics Release Inventory Reporting Requirements For Hydrogen Sulfide @sara almost 9 years ago 0
Controlled Testing with B&W Film Hydrogen Sulfide Detectors @jschaffr almost 9 years ago 2
Hydrogen Sulfide Dosimeter @sara almost 9 years ago 1
Hydrogen Sulfide Testing With Black and White Film @jschaffr almost 9 years ago 3
Hydrogen Sulfide tarnishing Silver @sara almost 9 years ago 1
Conversion from µg/m3 to ppm hydrogen sulfide @sara almost 9 years ago 2
Hydrogen Sulfide Information on the Gas @sara almost 9 years ago 0
Prototype H2S sensor @warren almost 9 years ago 0
"...when the hydrogen sulfide concentration reaches approximately 15 ppm, the human nose becomes desensitized" @warren almost 9 years ago 1
Notes on Global Community Monitor Report on Bucket samples from Gas Patch @sara about 9 years ago 0
Hydrogen Sulfide Monitoring In Gas Patch Background @sara about 9 years ago 0
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