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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 is manufactured.

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:

  • Nausea
  • Tearing of the Eyes
  • Loss of Sleep
  • Airway Problems
  • Headaches

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!

Client's portion of total recovery may be subject to Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement claims, Medicare/Medicaid liens or other third-party claims or liens. These verdicts and settlements are intended to be representative of cases handled by Arnold & Itkin, LLP. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.

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