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Hydrogen Sulfide

 Who is at risk?
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sewage treatment plant workers sewer workers workers in manholes tunnel workers well diggers workers in chemical laboratories

 Effects of exposure
Hydrogen sulfide at low levels has a distinctive rotten-egg odour and workers mistakenly assume that the absence of smell means that they are not exposed to it. Smell is a poor warning sign of hydrogen sulfide. At higher concentrations a sweet smell may be noted, but at even greater concentrations, hydrogen sulfide can “paralyze” the sense of smell and the ability to smell is lost. Some workers are congenitally (by birth) unable to smell hydrogen sulfide. That is why the air should always be monitored by instruments designed to detect hydrogen sulfide.
Parts per million (ppm) - Effects

 0.13 - This is the odour threshold. Odour is unpleasant. Sore eyes.  4.6 - Strong intense odour, but tolerable. Prolonged exposure may deaden the sense of smell.  10-20 - Causes painful eye, nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue, irritability, insomnia, gastrointestinal disturbance, loss of appetite, dizziness. Prolonged exposure may cause bronchitis and pneumonia.  30-100 - Sickeningly sweet smell noted.  50 - May cause muscle fatigue, inflammation and dryness of nose, throat and tubes leading to the lungs. Exposure for one hour or more at levels above 50 ppm can cause severe eye tissue damage. Long-term exposure can cause lung disease.  100-150 - Loss of smell, stinging of eyes and throat. Fatal after 8 to 48 hours of continuous exposure.  200-250 - Nervous system depression (headache, dizziness and nausea are symptoms). Prolonged exposure may cause fluid accumulation in the lungs. Fatal in 4 to 8 hours of continuous exposure.

What can be done? A program for worker protection 1. The monitor should reach the lowest point in the space and monitoring should continue throughout the course of work. blanked off. A third person should survey the operation. No one should enter a confined space without at least one standby person stationed outside who is in constant contact with the worker inside. low blood pressure and unconsciousness after 20 minutes.  300 to 500 .  300 .  1000 .Paralysis of the nervous system. Any areas with sources of gas should be closed. sensitive to low levels of hydrogen sulfide.  700 . All areas where toxic gases are detected should be ventilated with a fresh air-blower.Pulmonary edema (lungs fill with fluid.  500 . chemical damage to lungs). The ventilation system should be non–sparking and inspected every six months. Death after exposure of 30 to 60 minutes. should be installed permanently in key locations near the ground. . sampling should be done with a remote monitor on a wand attached to a toxic gas meter. Portable monitors should be clipped onto the worker’s belt and carried into confined spaces as a supplement or when fixed ones are not appropriate. first aid. These should warn workers with audible alarm and coloured lights and have the capacity to be used continuously for more than 8 hours without recharging batteries. Modern continuous direct-reading electronic gas monitors with strip charts or circular chart recorders. 2.May cause muscle cramps.Immediately fatal. The permit system would provide written authority for entering the area. rescue equipment and instructions should be in the immediate vicinity. workplace air should be monitored and hydrogen sulfide should be controlled so that no worker is exposed to levels above 10 ppm. Workers should be equipped with gas monitors. Preventing Work Practice All entries to confined spaces should be posted with specific work procedures and safety checklist or permit system. Safety equipment.Paralyzes the respiratory system and overcomes victim almost instantaneously. foaming in mouth. Monitoring and ventilation First. locked and tagged. list all potential hazards and the safety equipment necessary to ensure worker safety and identify that the workers involved have received proper current training in confined entry procedures. Such devices should have sound alarms that are set to warn workers when 10 ppm is reached.ppm may be fatal in 1 to 4 hours of continuous exposure. Before entering an unknown or confined area. 250-600 .

meaning of alarms). Checkups should include the ability to use respirators and hear to and see warnings.4) must be worn when entering a confined space.A. Training A comprehensive education/training program should be developed for workers which should include: knowledge of hazards from exposure. Appropriate respirators must always be used with proper fitting. When the atmosphere is dangerous workers should wear a self-contained breathing apparatus. Workers should be certified as trained before being assigned to enter confined spaces. 3. Air purifying filter or cartridge respirators easily leak. resuscitation. This training would be done quarterly and before a worker starts on the job.A harness. safety belt and wrist lock attached to a lifeline should be worn in the event that an unconscious worker must be pulled out of a confined space. Medical examinations Workers should be given medical examinations annually and prior to starting a job. nervous and respiratory systems. .standard Z94.S. evacuation.or Canadian Standards Association – C. Particular attention should be paid to eyes. If concentrations are below the recommended ceiling the records must contain the basis for this conclusion. Self contained respirators have air supplied from a cylinder worn on the back while supplied-air respirators have air supplied by a long line from a large stationary tank. training in the location of monitors. all emergency procedures (first aid. Air supplied respirators with masks hooked up to an air hose connected to a blower are not suitable for tight areas and may foul or break. Record-keeping Air monitoring should be conducted at each location where hydrogen sulfide may be released and a survey log kept. NIOSH recommends any supplied-air respirator or self-contained breathing apparatus for levels of hydrogen sulfide of 10 to 100 ppm. Care and Use of Respirators). have a limited lifetime and should not be used when the atmosphere is dangerous. respirators. standard M1982 Selection.S. 5. symptoms and how to deal with them. 4. Rescuers should also be equipped with proper safety equipment. An aerosol type horn that can be blasted in case of emergency should also be worn. Respirators and Respirator Problems A suitable breathing apparatus (one approved by the U. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – NIOSH.S. maintained and cleaned regularly.A. be easily accessible. 6. up to 250 ppm – any supplied-air respirator with a full facepiece. (See C.