Elgee

Hydrogen sulfide - we have too much at work

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So we've had a horrible stench coming and going at work, for the past 4 months. It seems to originate from the sewerage system, but everyone at the municipality just passes the buck. We've had a number of them come to look, some put "nice smelly stuff" down the sewer, others did nothing except say they'll report it up or it's not their issue. Today we finally had 3 people investigate properly, and it registered a reading of 111 PPM of H2S on their little gadget. They got a massive fright! To illuminate, this is what Wikipedia says about H2S:

 

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Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic and flammable gas (flammable range: 4.3–46%). Being heavier than air, it tends to accumulate at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Although very pungent at first, it quickly deadens the sense of smell, so victims may be unaware of its presence until it is too late.


 

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Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic and flammable gas (flammable range: 4.3–46%). Being heavier than air, it tends to accumulate at the bottom of poorly ventilated spaces. Although very pungent at first, it quickly deadens the sense of smell, so victims may be unaware of its presence until it is too late.

 

 

 

 


 

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Exposure to lower concentrations can result in eye irritation, a sore throat and cough, nausea, shortness of breath, and fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema).[25] These effects are believed to be due to the fact that hydrogen sulfide combines with alkali present in moist surface tissues to form sodium sulfide, a caustic.[30] These symptoms usually go away in a few weeks.

Long-term, low-level exposure may result in fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, irritability, poor memory, and dizziness. Chronic exposure to low level H
2S
(around 2 ppm) has been implicated in increased miscarriage and reproductive health issues among Russian and Finnish wood pulp workers,[31] but the reports have not (as of circa 1995) been replicated.

Short-term, high-level exposure can induce immediate collapse, with loss of breathing and a high probability of death. If death does not occur, high exposure to hydrogen sulfide can lead to cortical pseudolaminar necrosis, degeneration of the basal ganglia and cerebral edema.[25] Although respiratory paralysis may be immediate, it can also be delayed up to 72 hours.[32]

  • 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.[33]
  • 10 ppm is the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) (8 hour time-weighted average).[18]
  • 10–20 ppm is the borderline concentration for eye irritation.
  • 20 ppm is the acceptable ceiling concentration established by OSHA.[18]
  • 50 ppm is the acceptable maximum peak above the ceiling concentration for an 8-hour shift, with a maximum duration of 10 minutes.[18]
  • 50–100 ppm leads to eye damage.
  • At 100–150 ppm the olfactory nerve is paralyzed after a few inhalations, and the sense of smell disappears, often together with awareness of danger.[34][35]
  • 320–530 ppm leads to pulmonary edema with the possibility of death.[25]
  • 530–1000 ppm causes strong stimulation of the central nervous system and rapid breathing, leading to loss of breathing.
  • 800 ppm is the lethal concentration for 50% of humans for 5 minutes' exposure (LC50).
  • Concentrations over 1000 ppm cause immediate collapse with loss of breathing, even after inhalation of a single breath.

 

 

 

 

 

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I've worked with hydrogen sulfide for ten years. The permissible exposure limit for an 8 hour shift is 50 ppm. 

 

Call OSHA, file an anonymous report, and they will see that reform is made, at the cost of your employer.

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Also, I was working on a well service rig (oilfield) and took a blast of H2S. I came too 15 minutes later. When I looked at my H2S monitors history, I had been hit with 311 ppm. 

 

H2S is no joke. If my crew hadn't drug me out of there I would not be here today

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Not much protection here, I'm afraid. And this is not coming from my employer, it's coming from the suburb's sewerage system. The Municipal guys who eventually "diagnosed" the problem on Friday say they will now investigate and try to find the source.

 

Glad you got rescued, LZM! That's some scary stuff O_O

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