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Air Monitoring of Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) is an extremely hazardous, toxic, and flammable gaseous compound recognized for it’s “rotten egg” smell at very low concentrations. It is heavier than air and therefore accumulates at the bottom of poorly ventilated areas. Most hydrogen sulfide in the air comes from natural sources – from bacterial decomposition of plant and animal materials, and from geothermic sources such as volcanoes, hot springs, and underwater thermal events.

Industrial sources of hydrogen sulfide include:

  • Petroleum and natural gas extraction and refining
  • Pulp and Paper manufacturing
  • Rayon textile production
  • Chemical manufacturing and waste disposal

More recently, contamination from sulfur-containing compounds (H2S, SO2, Sulfuric Acid, etc) has come to the forefront due to concerns with commercial and residential buildings where Chinese drywall was installed in warm and humid climates.

Exposure to high levels can cause muscle cramps, low blood pressure, slow respiration and loss of consciousness. Short-term exposure to moderate amounts of hydrogen sulfide in the workplace produces eye, nose and throat irritation, nausea, dizziness, breathing difficulties, headaches and loss of appetite and sleep. Continued exposure can irritate the respiratory passages and can lead to a buildup of fluid in the lungs.