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Hydrogen Sulphide


This page is still in preparation. It will give a brief account of the sources and very harmful, even fatal consequences which may arise from exposure to this highly toxic gas. 


Hydrogen sulphide is not merely a smelly nuisance from stink bombs or rotten eggs. It is a highly toxic gas which interferes with cellular respiration just like carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide. It is not simply a byproduct of some chemical processes but it can arise from some other sources eg decomposition of organic matter such as sewage which in some instances has generated highly toxic, even fatal concentrations 

The accompanying image shows a slurry pit, on a farm into which drains excrement from the livestock e.g. cattle. Needless to say this can be offensive in its smell and appearance. 

But there is more to it than that ....... the resultant gases include Hydrogen Sulphide - which is highly toxic, and which has resulted in fatal poisonings. 

Health Effects:

Hydrogen Sulphide is a potent chemical asphyxiant, combining with haemoglobin in red blood cells and with intracellular cytochromes and thus rapidly stopping oxygen from access to cellular metabolism (just like gases such as carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide). Indeed H2S is arguably as toxic as Hydrogen Cyanide HCN.  Biological monitoring or tests for intoxication could be undertaken through spectrophotometry of the haemoglobin in blood.

Hydrogen Sulphide is very foul smelling but very quickly paralyses the sense of smell, and can go on to overcome the victim and eventually cause death. Therefore smell cannot be relied upon to provide warnings of this treacherous gas. 

Hydrogen Sulphide is also an irritant of mucous membranes including the eyes and respiratory tract. 

Sadly slurry pits still claim lives