Hydrogen Sulfide – Health Effects, Detection and Exposure Prevention
Hydrogen sulfide (h2s, h2s monitor, h2s detection) is an irritating and extremely toxic gas. Early recognition and detection (using h2s detector and monitors) is crucial to protect employees from deadly exposures. Employees working in areas that contain or have the potential to contain hydrogen sulfide should learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of hydrogen sulfide exposure, how to monitor for hydrogen sulfide (h2s detector), and know how to take measures to protect themselves. Instrumentation is available to continuously detect and monitor the atmosphere in confined spaces for hydrogen sulfide and other gases as well as oxygen deficiencies.
Hydrogen sulfide is regulated by OSHA and has a permissible exposure limit of 20 parts per million (ppm) ceiling concentration and a peak exposure limit. If no other measurable exposure, of 50 (ppm) for no more than 10 minutes occurs. Inhalation of concentrations of 500-1000 (ppm) will cause rapid unconsciousness and death through respiratory paralysis and asphyxiation. If it is inhaled or it comes in contact, hydrogen sulfide can affect the body. with the eyes, skin, throat or nose. If it is swallowed, it can also affect the body. Inhalation of low concentrations may cause dizziness, upset headache and stomach. At higher concentrations hydrogen sulfide may cause loss of consciousness and death. Hydrogen sulfide has a strong odor of rotten eggs at.
low concentrations and a sweetish odor at higher locations. Odor should not be used as a warning of exposure since at concentrations of (20-30 parts per million) hydrogen sulfide may deaden the sense of smell by paralyzing the respiratory center of the brain and olfactory nerve. There are two types of respiratory protection acceptable for protection from hydrogen sulfide gas, SCBA or Supplied airline respirator. Respiratory protection should only be used if engineering controls are not feasible to control exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas.
If engineering controls are not feasible to control, protection should only be used exposure to hydrogen sulfide gas. There are may incidents of on the job fatalities caused by hydrogen sulfide gas but with proper training, and monitoring equipment and safety and health procedures for entering confined spaces, employees can work safely.
* Article excerpts taken from Hilton E. Kalusche, Industrial Hygienist, Safety and Environmental Management Office, Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, Mississippi
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