The Dangers of Hydrogen Sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide is a foul-smelling, colorless gas that can be dangerous
when in high concentrations. The gas is also known as sewer and swamp
gas. It has a pungent rotten egg odor and is extremely flammable. The
gas naturally occurs in sewers, well water, gas wells, volcanoes, and
manure pits, but it can also be present in workplaces all throughout the
United States. Hydrogen sulfide can be present on oil and gas rigs, but
it can also be present in locations where oil and gas is refined, such
as industrial plants. The gas is present in mining and pulp and paper
processing. It can also occur at high concentrations in places where rayon
The Health Effects of Hydrogen Sulfide
Hydrogen sulfide can be highly toxic. According to the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration, inhalation can bring on different levels of
danger depending on how much a worker breathes and for how long. The effects
of the drug are even seen at low concentrations. Those that inhale a low
concentration of the gas will typically get headaches or suffer eye irritation.
The odor of hydrogen sulfide is normally most pungent at lower concentrations.
At high concentrations, the odor is harder to detect, and exposure can
lead to unconsciousness or death.
At a concentration of 2-5, prolonged exposure can result in the following:
- Tearing of the Eyes
- Loss of Sleep
- Airway Problems
At a concentration of 20, symptoms rise to fatigue, loss of appetite, irritability,
poor memory, and dizziness. When the concentration rises to the 50-100
range, individuals may develop conjunctivitis and a respiratory tract
infection. At 100, individuals can start coughing, suffer severe eye irritation,
and may suffer a loss of smell. In addition, an individual may suffer
altered breathing and drowsiness. Between 100 and 150 individuals will
not be able to smell anymore; between 200 and 300, eye irritation and
respiratory tract irritation will occur. Individuals may suffer from pulmonary edema.
At concentrations between 500 and 700, individuals will collapse within
minutes and will suffer serious, possibly permanent damage to the eyes
in 30 minutes. Between 700 and 1000 individuals will collapse. Their breathing
will stop promptly and individuals may be dead within minutes. Any concentration
over 1,000 will result in instant death. This gas has other dangers when
in its liquid form. The liquid hydrogen sulfide can cause "blue skin"
or frostbite. If clothing becomes wet, the OSHA suggests that you take
the clothing off in a place far from ignition sources.
How Arnold & Itkin Can Help
If you have been exposed to hydrogen sulfide at your workplace, then you
should discuss your case with an
industrial injury attorney at Arnold & Itkin. The Bureau of Labor Statistics writes that hydrogen
sulfide caused 60 worker deaths between 2001 and 2010 and is one of the
leading causes of workplace gas inhalation deaths in the United States.
The gas can overcome workers almost immediately; it is heavier than air
so it tends to travel along the ground, as well. It can build up in poorly
ventilated areas, and at dangerous, high concentrations the typically
potent gas is odorless.
When you are harmed by a dangerous gas at your workplace, you have the
right to seek compensation. OSHA demands that supervisors should evaluate
exposure to determine whether it is present in high concentrations at
a workplace. Sources of hydrogen should be eliminated whenever possible,
and employers need to control exposure through developing workplace safety
standards and using engineering tools. All individuals need to use personal
protective equipment to protect themselves from exposure. The attorneys
at our firm can enforce your rights to safety and point out where a supervisor
failed to maintain a safe atmosphere.
Contact Arnold & Itkin today!