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Hydrogen Sulfide

Overview

CAS No. 7783-06-4

Hydrogen sulfide (H₂S) is a colorless gas with a strong odor of rotten eggs. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide may cause irritation to the eyes and respiratory system. It can also cause apnea, coma, convulsions; dizziness, headache, weakness, irritability, insomnia; stomach upset, and if liquid: frostbite. Workers may be harmed from exposure to hydrogen sulfide. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Hydrogen sulfide is used in many industries. For example, it’s used to produce textiles. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to hydrogen sulfide include the following:

  • Factory workers in plants where rayon textiles are manufactured
  • Petroleum and natural gas workers involved in drilling and refining
  • Workers in wastewater treatment industries
  • Agricultural workers on farms with manure storage pits or landfills

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries. If you work in an industry that uses hydrogen sulfide, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to hydrogen sulfide. Useful search terms for hydrogen sulfide include “hydrosulfuric acid,” “sewer gas,” and “sulfuretted hydrogen.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on hydrogen sulfide.

Related NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

 
Number Title
01MI061, 01MI063 Two Individuals Overcome By Hydrogen Sulfide Gas While Cleaning a Farm Facility Water Well With 28% Liquid Muriatic Acid.
94MN057 Waste Hauling Service Worker Dies After He Collapsed In An Underground Manure Waste Pit.
94MN045 Farmer Asphyxiated in Manure Waste Pit.
92NJ020 Police Officer Drowns After Being Overcome by Hydrogen Sulfide While Attempting Rescue of Construction Worker
91CO074 Sanitation Worker Dies When Rescuing Co-worker From Underground Sewer Vault.
9228 Hog Farm Co-Owner and Employee Die of Hydrogen Sulfide Poisoning in Manure Pit–Minnesota.
8928 Two Maintenance Workers Die After Inhaling Hydrogen Sulfide in Manhole.
8946 Five Family Members Die After Entering Manure Waste Pit on Dairy Farm.

Related Resources

International Resources

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