hydrogen sulfide

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hydrogen sulfide
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{{short description|Poisonous, corrosive and flammable gas }}{{Chembox| Verifiedfields = changed| Watchedfields = changed| verifiedrevid = 477313464| ImageFile1 = Hydrogen-sulfide-2D-dimensions.svg
correct|??}}| ImageSize1 = 170| ImageName1 = Skeletal formula of hydrogen sulfide with two dimensions| ImageFileL1 = Hydrogen-sulfide-3D-balls.png| ImageNameL1 = Ball-and-stick model of hydrogen sulfide| ImageFileR1 = Hydrogen-sulfide-3D-vdW.svgcorrect|??}}| ImageNameR1 = Spacefill model of hydrogen sulfideWORK = THE PUBCHEM PROJECTPUBLISHER = NATIONAL CENTER FOR BIOTECHNOLOGY INFORMATION, Dihydrogen monosulfideSewer gasSulfurated hydrogenSulfuretted hydrogenHydrosulfuric acidThiohydroxic acid|Sulfhydric acid}}|Section1={{Chembox Identifiers| CASNo = 7783-06-4correct|CAS}}| PubChem = 402| ChemSpiderID = 391correct|chemspider}}| UNII = YY9FVM7NSNcorrect|FDA}}| EINECS = 231-977-3| UNNumber = 1053| KEGG = C00283correct|kegg}}| MeSHName = Hydrogen+sulfidecorrect|EBI}}| ChEBI = 16136| ChEMBL = 1200739changed|EBI}}| RTECS = MX1225000| Beilstein = 3535004| Gmelin = 303| 3DMet = B01206| SMILES = [H]S[H]| StdInChI = 1S/H2S/h1H2correct|chemspider}}| InChI = 1/H2S/h1H2| StdInChIKey = RWSOTUBLDIXVET-UHFFFAOYSA-Ncorrect|chemspider}}| InChIKey = RWSOTUBLDIXVET-UHFFFAOYAJ}}|Section2={{Chembox Properties S=1| Appearance = Colorless gas| Odor = Pungent, like that of rotten eggs| Density = 1.363 g dm−3| MeltingPtC = −82| BoilingPtC = −60| Solubility = 4 g dm−3 (at 20 Â°C)| VaporPressure = 1740 kPa (at 21 Â°C)| ConjugateAcid = Sulfonium| ConjugateBase = BisulfideTITLE=IONISATION CONSTANTS OF INORGANIC ACIDS AND BASES IN AQUEOUS SOLUTION PUBLISHER=PERGAMON PRESS DATE=1982, Bruckenstein, S.; Kolthoff, I.M., in Kolthoff, I.M.; Elving, P.J. Treatise on Analytical Chemistry, Vol. 1, pt. 1; Wiley, NY, 1959, pp. 432–433. TITLE=HANDBOOK OF INORGANIC CHEMICALS DATE=2002, 978-0-07-049439-8, | MagSus = −25.5·10−6 cm3/mol}}|Section3={{Chembox Structure| MolShape = Bent| Dipole = 0.97 D| PointGroup = C2v}}|Section4={{Chembox ThermochemistryTITLE =CHEMICAL PRINCIPLES PUBLISHER = HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY ISBN = 978-0-618-94690-7, A23, | Entropy = 206 J mol−1 K−1| HeatCapacity = 1.003 J K−1 g−1}}|Section5={{Chembox Hazards| MainHazards = Flammable and highly toxic| ExternalSDS = | EUClass = {{Hazchem F+}} {{Hazchem T+}} {{Hazchem N}}| RPhrases = {{R12}}, {{R26}}, {{R50}}| SPhrases = {{S1/2}}, {{S9}}, {{S16}}, {{S36}}, {{S38}}, {{S45}}, {{S61}}| NFPA-H = 4| NFPA-F = 4| NFPA-R = 0| AutoignitionPtC = 232| FlashPtC = −82.4WORK=NPI.GOV.AU, | ExploLimits = 4.3–46%0337}}| REL = C 10 ppm (15 mg/m3) [10-minute] | PEL = C 20 ppm; 50 ppm [10-minute maximum peak]713 ppm (rat, 1 hr)634 ppm (mouse, 1 hr)7783064|Hydrogen sulfide}}}}600 ppm (human, 30 min)|800 ppm (human, 5 min)}}}}|Section6={{Chembox Related| OtherFunction_label = hydrogen chalcogenideswater (molecule)>Hydrogen selenideHydrogen telluride>Hydrogen polonideHydrogen disulfide>Sulfanyl}}| OtherCompounds = Phosphine}}}}Hydrogen sulfide is the chemical compound with the formula {{chem|H|2|S}}. It is a colorless chalcogen hydride gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. It is very poisonous, corrosive, and flammable.{{Greenwood&Earnshaw2nd}}Hydrogen sulfide is often produced from the microbial breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen gas, such as in swamps and sewers; this process is commonly known as anaerobic digestion which is done by sulfate-reducing microorganisms. {{chem|H|2|S}} also occurs in volcanic gases, natural gas, and in some sources of well water.WEB, Hydrogen Sulphide In Well Water,weblink 4 September 2018, The human body produces small amounts of {{chem|H|2|S}} and uses it as a signaling molecule.JOURNAL, 4369258, 2015, Bos, E. M, Hydrogen sulfide: Physiological properties and therapeutic potential in ischaemia, British Journal of Pharmacology, 172, 6, 1479–1493, Van Goor, H, Joles, J. A, Whiteman, M, Leuvenink, H. G, 10.1111/bph.12869, 25091411, Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele is credited with having discovered the chemical composition of hydrogen sulfide in 1777.The British English spelling of this compound is hydrogen sulphide, but this spelling is not recommended by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) or the Royal Society of Chemistry.


Hydrogen sulfide is slightly denser than air; a mixture of {{chem|H|2|S}} and air can be explosive. Hydrogen sulfide burns in oxygen with a blue flame to form sulfur dioxide ({{chem|SO|2}}) and water. In general, hydrogen sulfide acts as a reducing agent, especially in the presence of base, which forms SH−.At high temperatures or in the presence of catalysts, sulfur dioxide reacts with hydrogen sulfide to form elemental sulfur and water. This reaction is exploited in the Claus process, an important industrial method to dispose of hydrogen sulfide.Hydrogen sulfide is slightly soluble in water and acts as a weak acid (pKa = 6.9 in 0.01–0.1 mol/litre solutions at 18 Â°C), giving the hydrosulfide ion {{chem|HS|-}} (also written {{chem|SH|-}}). Hydrogen sulfide and its solutions are colorless. When exposed to air, it slowly oxidizes to form elemental sulfur, which is not soluble in water. The sulfide anion {{chem|S|2-}} is not formed in aqueous solution.JOURNAL, May, P.M., Batka, D., Hefter, G., Könignberger, E., Rowland, D., Goodbye to S2-, Chem. Comm., 54, 16, 1980–1983, 2018, 10.1039/c8cc00187a, 29404555, Hydrogen sulfide reacts with metal ions to form metal sulfides, which are insoluble, often dark colored solids. Lead(II) acetate paper is used to detect hydrogen sulfide because it readily converts to lead(II) sulfide, which is black. Treating metal sulfides with strong acid often liberates hydrogen sulfide.At pressures above 90 GPa (gigapascal), hydrogen sulfide becomes a metallic conductor of electricity. When cooled below a critical temperature this high-pressure phase exhibits superconductivity. The critical temperature increases with pressure, ranging from 23 K at 100 GPa to 150 K at 200 GPa.ARXIV, Drozdov, A., Eremets, M. I., Troyan, I. A., Conventional superconductivity at 190 K at high pressures, 1412.0460, 2014, cond-mat.supr-con, If hydrogen sulfide is pressurized at higher temperatures, then cooled, the critical temperature reaches {{convert|203|K|°C}}, the highest accepted superconducting critical temperature as of 2015. By substituting a small part of sulfur with phosphorus and using even higher pressures, it has been predicted that it may be possible to raise the critical temperature to above {{convert|0|°C|K}} and achieve room-temperature superconductivity.JOURNAL, Cartlidge, Edwin, Superconductivity record sparks wave of follow-up physics, Nature, 524, 7565, 277, 18 August 2015, 10.1038/nature.2015.18191, 26289188, 2015Natur.524..277C,


Hydrogen sulfide is most commonly obtained by its separation from sour gas, which is natural gas with a high content of {{chem|H|2|S}}. It can also be produced by treating hydrogen with molten elemental sulfur at about 450 Â°C. Hydrocarbons can serve as a source of hydrogen in this process.BOOK, Francois Pouliquen, Claude Blanc, Emmanuel Arretz, Ives Labat, Jacques Tournier-Lasserve, Alain Ladousse, Jean Nougayrede, Gérard Savin, Raoul Ivaldi, Monique Nicolas, Jean Fialaire, René Millischer, Charles Azema, Lucien Espagno, Henri Hemmer, Jacques Perrot, Hydrogen Sulfide, Ullmann's Encyclopedia of Chemical Industry, 200, 10.1002/14356007.a13_467, 978-3527306732, Sulfate-reducing (resp. sulfur-reducing) bacteria generate usable energy under low-oxygen conditions by using sulfates (resp. elemental sulfur) to oxidize organic compounds or hydrogen; this produces hydrogen sulfide as a waste product.A standard lab preparation is to treat ferrous sulfide with a strong acid in a Kipp generator:
FeS + 2 HCl → FeCl2 + H2S
For use in qualitative inorganic analysis, thioacetamide is used to generate {{chem|H|2|S}}:
CH3C(S)NH2 + H2O → CH3C(O)NH2 + H2S
Many metal and nonmetal sulfides, e.g. aluminium sulfide, phosphorus pentasulfide, silicon disulfide liberate hydrogen sulfide upon exposure to water:BOOK, McPherson, William, Laboratory manual, 1913, Ginn and Company, Boston, 445,weblink
6 H2O + Al2S3 → 3 H2S + 2 Al(OH)3
This gas is also produced by heating sulfur with solid organic compounds and by reducing sulfurated organic compounds with hydrogen.Water heaters can aid the conversion of sulfate in water to hydrogen sulfide gas. This is due to providing a warm environment sustainable for sulfur bacteria and maintaining the reaction which interacts between sulfate in the water and the water heater anode, which is usually made from magnesium metal.WEB, Why Does My Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs? Hydrogen Sulfide and Sulfur Bacteria in Well Water,weblink Minnesota Department of Health, Minnesota Department of Health, 1 December 2014,

Biosynthesis in the body

Hydrogen sulfide can be generated in cells via enzymatic or non enzymatic pathway. {{chem|H|2|S}} in the body acts as a gaseous signaling molecule which is known to inhibit Complex IV of the mitochondrial electron transport chain which effectively reduces ATP generation and biochemical activity within cells.BOOK, Cell signalling, T., Hancock, John, 9780199658480, Fourth, Oxford, United Kingdom, 947925636, 2017, Three enzymes are known to synthesize {{chem|H|2|S}}: cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE), cystathionine β-synthetase (CBS) and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase (3-MST).{{Citation|last=Huang|first=Caleb Weihao|title=H2S Synthesizing Enzymes: Biochemistry and Molecular Aspects|volume=230|date=2015|work=Chemistry, Biochemistry and Pharmacology of Hydrogen Sulfide|pages=3–25|publisher=Springer International Publishing|language=en|doi=10.1007/978-3-319-18144-8_1|pmid=26162827|isbn=9783319181431|last2=Moore|first2=Philip Keith}} These enzymes have been identified in a breadth of biological cells and tissues, and their activity has been observed to be induced by a number of disease states.JOURNAL, Kabil, Omer, Banerjee, Ruma, 2014-02-10, Enzymology of H2S Biogenesis, Decay and Signaling, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, en, 20, 5, 770–782, 10.1089/ars.2013.5339, 1523-0864, 3910450, 23600844, It is becoming increasingly clear that {{chem|H|2|S}} is an important mediator of a wide range of cell functions in health and in disease. CBS and CSE are the main proponents of {{chem|H|2|S}} biogenesis, which follows the trans-sulfuration pathway.JOURNAL, Kabil, Omer, Vitvitsky, Victor, Xie, Peter, Banerjee, Ruma, 2011-07-15, The Quantitative Significance of the Transsulfuration Enzymes for H2S Production in Murine Tissues, Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 15, 2, 363–372, 10.1089/ars.2010.3781, 1523-0864, 3118817, 21254839, These enzymes are characterized by the transfer of a sulfur atom from methionine to serine to form a cysteine molecule. 3-MST also contributes to hydrogen sulfide production by way of the cysteine catabolic pathway. Dietary amino acids, such as methionine and cysteine serve as the primary substrates for the transulfuration pathways and in the production of hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide can also be synthesized by non-enzymatic pathway, which is derived from proteins such as ferredoxins and Rieske proteins.{{chem|H|2|S}} has been shown to be involved in physiological processes like vasoconstriction in animals, increasing seed germination and stress responses in plants. Hydrogen sulfide signaling is also innately intertwined with physiological processes that are known to be moderated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS). {{chem|H|2|S}} has been shown to interact with NO resulting in several different cellular effects, as well as the formation of a new signal called nitrosothiol. Hydrogen Sulfide is also known to increase the levels of glutathione which acts to reduce or disrupt ROS levels in cells. In these early days in the field of {{chem|H|2|S}} biochemistry and signaling there are more questions than answers.


Production of sulfur, thioorganic compounds, and alkali metal sulfides

The main use of hydrogen sulfide is as a precursor to elemental sulfur. Several organosulfur compounds are produced using hydrogen sulfide. These include methanethiol, ethanethiol, and thioglycolic acid.Upon combining with alkali metal bases, hydrogen sulfide converts to alkali hydrosulfides such as sodium hydrosulfide and sodium sulfide:
H2S + NaOH → NaSH + H2O NaSH + NaOH → Na2S + H2O
These compounds are used in the paper making. Specifically, salts of SH− break bonds between lignin and cellulose components of pulp in the Kraft process.Reversibly sodium sulfide in the presence of acids turns into hydrosulfides and hydrogen sulfide; this supplies hydrosulfides in organic solutions and is utilized in the production of thiophenol. JOURNAL, Khazaei, A., etal, 2012, Synthesis of thiophenols using sodium sulfide in acidic media, Synlett, 23, 13, 1893–1896, 10.1055/s-0032-1316557,

Analytical chemistry

For well over a century, hydrogen sulfide was important in analytical chemistry, in the qualitative inorganic analysis of metal ions. In these analyses, heavy metal (and nonmetal) ions (e.g., Pb(II), Cu(II), Hg(II), As(III)) are precipitated from solution upon exposure to {{chem|H|2|S}}. The components of the resulting precipitate redissolve with some selectivity, and are thus identified.

Precursor to metal sulfides

As indicated above, many metal ions react with hydrogen sulfide to give the corresponding metal sulfides. This conversion is widely exploited. For example, gases or waters contaminated by hydrogen sulfide can be cleaned with metals, by forming metal sulfides. In the purification of metal ores by flotation, mineral powders are often treated with hydrogen sulfide to enhance the separation. Metal parts are sometimes passivated with hydrogen sulfide. Catalysts used in hydrodesulfurization are routinely activated with hydrogen sulfide, and the behavior of metallic catalysts used in other parts of a refinery is also modified using hydrogen sulfide.

Miscellaneous applications

Hydrogen sulfide is used to separate deuterium oxide, or heavy water, from normal water via the Girdler sulfide process.Scientists from the University of Exeter discovered that cell exposure to small amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas can prevent mitochondrial damage. When the cell is stressed with disease, enzymes are drawn into the cell to produce small amounts of hydrogen sulfide. This study could have further implications on preventing strokes, heart disease and arthritis.WEB, Stampler, Laura, A Stinky Compound May Protect Against Cell Damage, Study Finds,weblink Time, Time, 1 December 2014, A suspended animation-like state has been induced in rodents with the use of hydrogen sulfide, resulting in hypothermia with a concomitant reduction in metabolic rate. Also oxygen demand was reduced, thereby protecting against hypoxia. In addition, hydrogen sulfide has been shown to reduce inflammation in various situations.JOURNAL, Aslami, H, Schultz, MJ, Juffermans, NP, Potential applications of hydrogen sulfide-induced suspended animation., Current Medicinal Chemistry, 2009, 16, 10, 1295–303, 19355886, 10.2174/092986709787846631,


missing image!
- Deposit from hydrogen sulphide.jpg -
Deposit of sulfur on a rock, caused by volcanic gas
Small amounts of hydrogen sulfide occur in crude petroleum, but natural gas can contain up to 90%{{Citation needed|date=October 2018}}. Volcanoes and some hot springs (as well as cold springs) emit some {{chem|H|2|S}}, where it probably arises via the hydrolysis of sulfide minerals, i.e. MS + {{chem|H|2|O}} → MO + {{chem|H|2|S}}.{{Citation needed|date=April 2011}} Hydrogen sulfide can be present naturally in well water, often as a result of the action of sulfate-reducing bacteria. Hydrogen sulfide is created by the human body in small doses through bacterial breakdown of proteins containing sulfur in the intestinal tract. It is also produced in the mouth (halitosis).A portion of global {{chem|H|2|S}} emissions are due to human activity. By far the largest industrial source of {{chem|H|2|S}} is petroleum refineries: The hydrodesulfurization process liberates sulfur from petroleum by the action of hydrogen. The resulting {{chem|H|2|S}} is converted to elemental sulfur by partial combustion via the Claus process, which is a major source of elemental sulfur. Other anthropogenic sources of hydrogen sulfide include coke ovens, paper mills (using the Kraft process), tanneries and sewerage. {{chem|H|2|S}} arises from virtually anywhere where elemental sulfur comes in contact with organic material, especially at high temperatures. Depending on environmental conditions, it is responsible for deterioration of material through the action of some sulfur oxidizing microorganisms. It is called biogenic sulfide corrosion.In 2011 it was reported that increased concentration of {{chem|H|2|S}}, possibly due to oil field practices, was observed in the Bakken formation crude and presented challenges such as "health and environmental risks, corrosion of wellbore, added expense with regard to materials handling and pipeline equipment, and additional refinement requirements".WEB,weblink Home - OnePetro, OnePetro,, Besides living near a gas and oil drilling operations, ordinary citizens can be exposed to hydrogen sulfide by being near waste water treatment facilities, landfills and farms with manure storage. Exposure occurs through breathing contaminated air or drinking contaminated water.WEB, Hydrogen Sulfide,weblink Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, December 2016, In municipal waste landfill sites, the burial of organic material rapidly leads to the production of anaerobic digestion within the waste mass and, with the humid atmosphere and relatively high temperature that accompanies biodegradation, biogas is produced as soon as the air within the waste mass has been reduced. If there is a source of sulfate bearing material, such as plasterboard or natural gypsum (calcium sulphate dihydrate), under anaerobic conditions sulfate reducing bacteria converts this to hydrogen sulfide. These bacteria cannot survive in air but the moist, warm, anaerobic conditions of buried waste that contains a high source of carbon – in inert landfills, paper and glue used in the fabrication of products such as plasterboard can provide a rich source of carbonJOURNAL, 10.1016/S1093-0191(00)00056-3, Sulfate leaching from recovered construction and demolition debris fines, Advances in Environmental Research, 5, 3, 203–217, 2001, Jang, Yong-Chul, Townsend, Timothy, – is an excellent environment for the formation of hydrogen sulfide. In industrial anaerobic digestion processes, such as waste water treatment or the digestion of organic waste from agriculture, hydrogen sulfide can be formed from the reduction of sulfate and the degradation of amino acids and proteins within organic compoundsWEB,weblink Anaerobic digestion fundamentals, Cavinato, C, 2013, 2013, . Sulfates are relatively non-inhibitory to methane forming bacteria but can be reduced to H2S by sulfate reducing bacteria, of which there are several genera.WEB,weblink Sulfur-oxidizing Bacteria in Environmental Technology, ResearchGate, en, 2019-03-26,

Removal from water

A number of processes designed to remove hydrogen sulfide from drinking water.WEB, Lemley, Ann T., Schwartz, John J., Wagenet, Linda P., Hydrogen Sulfide in Household Drinking Water,weblink Cornell University,
Continuous chlorination: For levels up to 75 mg/L chlorine is used in the purification process as an oxidizing chemical to react with hydrogen sulfide. This reaction yields insoluble solid sulfur. Usually the chlorine used is in the form of sodium hypochlorite.WEB, Hydrogen Sulfide (Rotten Egg Odor) in Pennsylvania Groundwater Wells,weblink Penn State, Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, 1 December 2014,
Aeration: For concentrations of hydrogen sulfide less than 2 mg/L aeration is an ideal treatment process. Oxygen is added to water and a reaction between oxygen and hydrogen sulfide react to produce odorless sulfateWEB, McFarland, Mark L., Provin, T. L., Hydrogen Sulfide in Drinking Water Treatment Causes and Alternatives,weblink Texas A&M University, 1 December 2014,
Nitrate addition: Calcium nitrate can be used to prevent hydrogen sulfide formation in wastewater streams.

Removal from fuel gases

Hydrogen sulfide is commonly found in raw natural gas and biogas. It is typically removed by amine gas treating technologies. In such processes, the hydrogen sulfide is first converted to an ammonium salt, whereas the natural gas is unaffected.
RNH2 + H2S {{eqm}} RNH{{su|p=+|b=3}} + SH−
The bisulfide anion is subsequently regenerated by heating of the amine sulfide solution. Hydrogen sulfide generated in this process is typically converted to elemental sulfur using the Claus Process.
missing image!
- AmineTreating.png -
frame|center|Process flow diagram of a typical amine treating process used in petroleum refineries, natural gas processing plants and other industrial facilities.


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. For safe handling procedures, a hydrogen sulfide safety data sheet (SDS) should be consulted.WEB
, Iowa State University
, Department of Chemistry MSDS
, Hydrogen Sulfide Material Safety Data Sheet
, 2009-03-14
, dead
,weblink" title="">weblink
, 2009-03-27


Hydrogen sulfide is a broad-spectrum poison, meaning that it can poison several different systems in the body, although the nervous system is most affected. The toxicity of {{chem|H|2|S}} is comparable with that of carbon monoxide.JOURNAL, Lindenmann, J., Matzi, V., Neuboeck, N., Ratzenhofer-Komenda, B., Maier, A, Smolle-Juettner, F. M., Severe hydrogen sulphide poisoning treated with 4-dimethylaminophenol and hyperbaric oxygen, Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine, 40, 4, 213–217, December 2010, 23111938,weblink 2013-06-07, It binds with iron in the mitochondrial cytochrome enzymes, thus preventing cellular respiration.Since hydrogen sulfide occurs naturally in the body, the environment, and the gut, enzymes exist to detoxify it. At some threshold level, believed to average around 300–350 ppm, the oxidative enzymes become overwhelmed. Many personal safety gas detectors, such as those used by utility, sewage and petrochemical workers, are set to alarm at as low as 5 to 10 ppm and to go into high alarm at 15 ppm. Detoxification is effected by oxidation to sulfate, which is harmless.JOURNAL, S., Ramasamy, S., Singh, P., Taniere, M. J. S., Langman, M. C., Eggo, Sulfide-detoxifying enzymes in the human colon are decreased in cancer and upregulated in differentiation, Am. J. Physiol. Gastrointest. Liver Physiol., 291, 2006, 10.1152/ajpgi.00324.2005, 16500920, 2, G288–96, Hence, low levels of hydrogen sulfide may be tolerated indefinitely.Diagnostic of extreme poisoning by {{chem|H|2|S}} is the discolouration of copper coins in the pockets of the victim. Treatment involves immediate inhalation of amyl nitrite, injections of sodium nitrite, or administration of 4-dimethylaminophenol in combination with inhalation of pure oxygen, administration of bronchodilators to overcome eventual bronchospasm, and in some cases hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT). HBOT has clinical and anecdotal support.JOURNAL, Gerasimon, G., Bennett, S., Musser, J., Rinard, J., Acute hydrogen sulfide poisoning in a dairy farmer, Clin. Toxicol., 45, 4, 420–423, May 2007, 17486486, 10.1080/15563650601118010,weblink JOURNAL, Belley, R., Bernard, N., Côté, M, Paquet, F., Poitras, J., Hyperbaric oxygen therapy in the management of two cases of hydrogen sulfide toxicity from liquid manure, CJEM, 7, 4, 257–261, July 2005, 17355683, 10.1017/s1481803500014408,weblink 2008-07-22, JOURNAL, Hsu, P., Li, H.-W., Lin, Y.-T., Acute hydrogen sulfide poisoning treated with hyperbaric oxygen, J. Hyperbaric Med., 2, 4, 215–221, 1987, 0884-1225,weblink 2008-07-22, 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). 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.BOOK, Lewis, R.J., Sax's Dangerous Properties of Industrial Materials., 9th, 1–3, New York, NY, Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1996, 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 {{chem|H|2|S}} (around 2 ppm) has been implicated in increased miscarriage and reproductive health issues among Russian and Finnish wood pulp workers,JOURNAL, Hemminki, K., Niemi, M. L., 1982, Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health, 51, 1, 55–63, Community study of spontaneous abortions: relation to occupation and air pollution by sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and carbon disulfide, 7152702, 10.1007/bf00378410, 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. Although respiratory paralysis may be immediate, it can also be delayed up to 72 hours.WEB,weblink The chemical suicide phenomenon,, 2011-02-07, 2013-12-19,
  • 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.WEB,weblink
author=Iowa State University Extension work=PM 1963a, 2012-06-20,
  • 10 ppm is the OSHA permissible exposure limit (PEL) (8 hour time-weighted average).WEB,weblink Toxicological Profile For Hydrogen Sulfide, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, July 2006, 154, 2012-06-20,
  • 10–20 ppm is the borderline concentration for eye irritation.
  • 20 ppm is the acceptable ceiling concentration established by OSHA.
  • 50 ppm is the acceptable maximum peak above the ceiling concentration for an 8-hour shift, with a maximum duration of 10 minutes.
  • 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.USEPA; Health and Environmental Effects Profile for Hydrogen Sulfide p.118-8 (1980) ECAO-CIN-026ABOOK, Zenz, C., O.B., Dickerson, E.P., Horvath, Occupational Medicine., 3rd, St. Louis, MO., 1994, 886,
  • 320–530 ppm leads to pulmonary edema with the possibility of death.
  • 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.


Hydrogen sulfide was used by the British Army as a chemical weapon during World War I. It was not considered to be an ideal war gas, but, while other gases were in short supply, it was used on two occasions in 1916.BOOK, Foulkes, Charles Howard, Charles Foulkes (British Army officer), "Gas!" The story of the special brigade, Published by Naval & Military P., 2001, First published Blackwood & Sons, 1934, 978-1-84342-088-0, 105, In 1975, a hydrogen sulfide release from an oil drilling operation in Denver City, Texas, killed nine people and caused the state legislature to focus on the deadly hazards of the gas. State Representative E L Short took the lead in endorsing an investigation by the Texas Railroad Commission and urged that residents be warned "by knocking on doors if necessary" of the imminent danger stemming from the gas. One may die from the second inhalation of the gas, and a warning itself may be too late.BOOK,weblink Howard Swindle, "The Deadly Smell of Success", ''Texas Monthly, June 1975, December 14, 2010, June 1975, On September 2, 2005, a leak in the propeller room of a Royal Caribbean Cruise Liner docked in Los Angeles resulted in the deaths of 3 crewmen due to a sewage line leak. As a result, all such compartments are now required to have a ventilation system.WEB,weblink County of Los Angeles: Department of Public Health, LA County Department of Public Health, 2017-06-11,weblink" title="">weblink 2017-02-18, dead, NEWS, Gas Kills 3 Crewmen on Ship,weblink Los Angeles Times, 2005-09-03, Becerra, Hector, Pierson, David, A dump of toxic waste containing hydrogen sulfide is believed to have caused 17 deaths and thousands of illnesses in Abidjan, on the West African coast, in the 2006 Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste dump.In 2014, levels of hydrogen sulfide as high as 83 ppm were detected at a recently built mall in Thailand called Siam Square One at the Siam Square area. Shop tenants at the mall reported health complications such as sinus inflammation, breathing difficulties and eye irritation. After investigation it was determined that the large amount of gas originated from imperfect treatment and disposal of waste water in the building.WEB, Do not breathe: Dangerous, toxic gas found at Siam Square One,weblink Coconuts Bangkok, Coconuts Media, 20 November 2014, 2014-10-21, In November 2014, a substantial amount of hydrogen sulfide gas shrouded the central, eastern and southeastern parts of Moscow. Residents living in the area were urged to stay indoors by the emergencies ministry. Although the exact source of the gas was not known, blame had been placed on a Moscow oil refinery.NEWS, Russian capital Moscow shrouded in noxious gas,weblink British Broadcasting Corporation, 1 December 2014, BBC News, 2014-11-10, In June 2016, a mother and her daughter were found deceased in their still-running 2006 Porsche Cayenne SUV against a guardrail on Florida's Turnpike, initially thought to be victims of carbon monoxide poisoning.NEWS, Sources: Mom, daughter found dead in Porsche likely died from carbon monoxide,weblink 28 April 2017, WFTV, 7 June 2016, Both had red skin and rash-like symptoms, and had vomited, sources said., NEWS, Salinger, Tobias, Woman, girl died after inhaling hydrogen sulfide, coroners say,weblink 28 April 2017, New York Daily News, 4 October 2016, Their deaths remained unexplained as the medical examiner waited for results of toxicology tests on the victims,NEWS, Lotan, Gal Tziperman, Hydrogen sulfide inhalation killed mother, toddler found on Florida's Turnpike in June,weblink 28 April 2017, Orlando Sentinel, 4 October 2016, until urine tests revealed that hydrogen sulfide was the cause of death.WEB, Zilber, Ariel, Florida woman and her daughter who died in Porsche inhaled toxic gas,weblink, Mail Online, 28 April 2017, 2016-10-05, A report from the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner’s Office indicated that toxic fumes came from the Porsche’s starter battery, located under the front passenger seat.WEB,weblink Medical examiner confirms suspected cause of deaths in Turnpike mystery, Kealing, Bob, 2016-10-04, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-10-05, WEB, Bell, Lisa, Produced by Donovan Myrie, Hidden car dangers you should be aware of,weblink, WKMG-TV, 28 April 2017, 19 March 2017, Porsche Cayennes, along with a few other vehicles, have their batteries in the passenger compartment., In January 2017, three utility workers in Key Largo, Florida, died one by one within seconds of descending into a narrow space beneath a manhole cover to check a section of paved street.WEB,weblink One by one, 3 utility workers descended into a manhole. One by one, they died,, In an attempt to save the men, a firefighter who entered the hole without his air tank (because he could not fit through the hole with it) collapsed within seconds and had to be rescued by a colleague.WEB, Herrin, Becky, Detectives investigating deaths of three men,weblink, Monroe County, Florida, Monroe County Sheriff's Office, 28 April 2017, 16 January 2017, NEWS, Goodhue, David, Firefighter who tried to save 3 men in a manhole is fighting for his life,weblink 28 April 2017, Miami Herald, 17 January 2017, The firefighter was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital and later recovered.NEWS, Key Largo firefighter takes first steps since nearly getting killed,weblink 28 April 2017, WSVN, 18 January 2017, NEWS, Firefighter who survived Key Largo rescue attempt that killed 3 leaves hospital,weblink 28 April 2017, Sun-Sentinel, Associated Press, 26 January 2017, A Monroe County Sheriff officer initially determined that the space contained hydrogen sulfide and methane gas produced by decomposing vegetation.NEWS, Rabin, Charles, Goodhue, David, Three Keys utility workers die in wastewater trench,weblink 28 April 2017, Miami Herald, 16 January 2017,


The gas, produced by mixing certain household ingredients, was used in a suicide wave in 2008 in Japan.JOURNAL,weblink Dangerous Japanese 'Detergent Suicide' Technique Creeps Into U.S, March 13, 2009,, The wave prompted staff at Tokyo's suicide prevention center to set up a special hot line during "Golden Week", as they received an increase in calls from people wanting to kill themselves during the annual May holiday.NEWS, Namiki, Noriko, 2008-05-22,weblink Terrible Twist in Japan Suicide Spates - ABC News,, 2013-12-19, As of 2010, this phenomenon has occurred in a number of US cities, prompting warnings to those arriving at the site of the suicideweblink These first responders, such as emergency services workers or family members are at risk of death from inhaling lethal quantities of the gas, or by {{webarchive |url= |date=January 3, 2012 }}WEB,weblink Chemical Suicides - Article - POLICE Magazine, Scoville, Dean,, April 2011, 2013-12-19, Local governments have also initiated campaigns to prevent such suicides.

Hydrogen sulfide in the natural environment

Microbial: The sulfur cycle

{{Anchor|Microbial|Sulfur cycle}}File:Teichschlamm1.jpg|thumb|left|SludgeSludgeHydrogen sulfide is a central participant in the sulfur cycle, the biogeochemical cycle of sulfur on Earth.BOOK, Larry L., Barton, Marie-Laure, Fardeau, Guy D., Fauque, Peter M.H., Kroneck, Martha E., Sosa Torres, The Metal-Driven Biogeochemistry of Gaseous Compounds in the Environment, Metal Ions in Life Sciences, 14, 2014, Springer, Chapter 10. Hydrogen Sulfide: A Toxic Gas Produced by Dissimilatory Sulfate and Sulfur Reduction and Consumed by Microbial Oxidation, 237–277, 10.1007/978-94-017-9269-1_10, 25416397, 978-94-017-9268-4, In the absence of oxygen, sulfur-reducing and sulfate-reducing bacteria derive energy from oxidizing hydrogen or organic molecules by reducing elemental sulfur or sulfate to hydrogen sulfide. Other bacteria liberate hydrogen sulfide from sulfur-containing amino acids; this gives rise to the odor of rotten eggs and contributes to the odor of flatulence.As organic matter decays under low-oxygen (or hypoxic) conditions (such as in swamps, eutrophic lakes or dead zones of oceans), sulfate-reducing bacteria will use the sulfates present in the water to oxidize the organic matter, producing hydrogen sulfide as waste. Some of the hydrogen sulfide will react with metal ions in the water to produce metal sulfides, which are not water-soluble. These metal sulfides, such as ferrous sulfide FeS, are often black or brown, leading to the dark color of sludge.Several groups of bacteria can use hydrogen sulfide as fuel, oxidizing it to elemental sulfur or to sulfate by using dissolved oxygen, metal oxides (e.g., Fe oxyhydroxides and Mn oxides), or nitrate as electron acceptors.BOOK, Jørgensen, B. B., D. C., Nelson, 2004, Sulfide oxidation in marine sediments: Geochemistry meets microbiology, 36–81, J. P., Amend, K. J., Edwards, T. W., Lyons, Sulfur Biogeochemistry – Past and Present, Geological Society of America, The purple sulfur bacteria and the green sulfur bacteria use hydrogen sulfide as an electron donor in photosynthesis, thereby producing elemental sulfur. (In fact, this mode of photosynthesis is older than the mode of cyanobacteria, algae, and plants, which uses water as electron donor and liberates oxygen.)The biochemistry of hydrogen sulfide is a key part of the chemistry of the iron-sulfur world. In this model of the origin of life on Earth, geologically produced hydrogen sulfide is postulated as an electron donor driving the reduction of carbon dioxide."The very first surface organism can be characterized as a catalyst for accelerating the formation of pyrite by providing a catalytic pathway for the flow of electrons from hydrogen sulfide to carbon dioxide." JOURNAL, 52, 4, 452–84, Günter Wächtershäuser, Wächtershäuser, Günter, Before enzymes and templates: theory of surface metabolism, Microbiol. Mol. Biol. Rev., July 25, 2015, 1988-12-01,weblink 3070320, 373159,


Hydrogen sulfide is lethal to most animals, but a few highly specialized species (extremophiles) do thrive in habitats that are rich in this compound.JOURNAL, Tobler, M, Riesch, R., García de León, F. J., Schlupp, I., Plath, M., 2008, Two endemic and endangered fishes, Poecilia sulphuraria (Álvarez, 1948) and Gambusia eurystoma Miller, 1975 (Poeciliidae, Teleostei) as only survivors in a small sulphidic habitat, Journal of Fish Biology, 72, 3, 523–533, 10.1111/j.1095-8649.2007.01716.x, In the deep sea, hydrothermal vents and cold seeps with high levels of hydrogen sulfide are home to a number of extremely specialized lifeforms, ranging from bacteria to fish.{{which|date=June 2015}}JOURNAL, Bernardino, Angelo F., Levin, Lisa A., Thurber, Andrew R., Smith, Craig R., 2012, Comparative Composition, Diversity and Trophic Ecology of Sediment Macrofauna at Vents, Seeps and Organic Falls., PLoS ONE, 7, 4, e33515, 10.1371/journal.pone.0033515, 22496753, 3319539, 2012PLoSO...733515B, Because of the absence of light at these depths, these ecosystems rely on chemosynthesis rather than photosynthesis.WEB, Marine Society of Australia,weblink Hydrothermal Vents, 28 December 2014, Freshwater springs rich in hydrogen sulfide are mainly home to invertebrates, but also include a small number of fish: Cyprinodon bobmilleri (a pupfish from Mexico), Limia sulphurophila (a poeciliid from the Dominican Republic), Gambusia eurystoma (a poeciliid from Mexico), and a few Poecilia (poeciliids from Mexico).JOURNAL, Palacios, Maura, Arias-Rodríguez, Lenín, Plath, Martin, Eifert, Constanze, Lerp, Hannes, Lamboj, Anton, Voelker, Gary, Tobler, Michael, 2013, The Rediscovery of a Long Described Species Reveals Additional Complexity in Speciation Patterns of Poeciliid Fishes in Sulfide Springs., PLoS ONE, 8, 8, e71069, 10.1371/journal.pone.0071069, 23976979, 3745397, 2013PLoSO...871069P, Invertebrates and microorganisms in some cave systems, such as Movile Cave, are adapted to high levels of hydrogen sulfide.JOURNAL, Kumaresan, Deepak, Wischer, Daniela, Stephenson, Jason, Hillebrand-Voiculescu, Alexandra, Murrell, J. Colin, Microbiology of Movile Cave—A Chemolithoautotrophic Ecosystem, Geomicrobiology Journal, 31, 3, 2014, 186–193, 0149-0451, 10.1080/01490451.2013.839764,

Interstellar and planetary occurrence

Hydrogen sulfide has often been detected in the interstellar medium.JOURNAL, Radio line observations of molecular and isotopic species in comet C/1995 O1 (Hale-Bopp) Implications on the interstellar origin of cometary ices
journal=Earth, Moon, and Planetsvolume=79doi=10.1023/A:1006229131864, It also occurs in the clouds of planets in our solar system.IRWIN, P. G. J.; TOLEDO, D.; GARLAND, R.; TEANBY, N. A.; FLETCHER, L. N.; ORTON, G. A.; BéZARD, B.>TITLE=DETECTION OF HYDROGEN SULFIDE ABOVE THE CLOUDS IN URANUS'S ATMOSPHEREYEAR=2018ISSUE=5DOI=10.1038/S41550-018-0432-1HDL=2381/42547, FUNDAMENTAL PLANETARY SCIENCES : PHYSICS, CHEMISTRY, AND HABITABILITY >LAST1=LISSAUERLAST2=DE PATERYEAR=2019 PAGES=149-152LOCATION=NEW YORK, NY, USA,

Mass extinctions

(File:Hydrogen Sulfide Emissions off of Africa.jpg|thumb|A hydrogen sulfide bloom (green) stretching for about 150km along the coast of Namibia. As oxygen-poor water reaches the coast, bacteria in the organic-matter rich sediment produce hydrogen sulfide which is toxic to fish. )Hydrogen sulfide has been implicated in several mass extinctions that have occurred in the Earth's past. In particular, a buildup of hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere may have caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event 252 million years ago.Organic residues from these extinction boundaries indicate that the oceans were anoxic (oxygen-depleted) and had species of shallow plankton that metabolized {{chem|H|2|S}}. The formation of {{chem|H|2|S}} may have been initiated by massive volcanic eruptions, which emitted carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, which warmed the oceans, lowering their capacity to absorb oxygen that would otherwise oxidize {{chem|H|2|S}}. The increased levels of hydrogen sulfide could have killed oxygen-generating plants as well as depleted the ozone layer, causing further stress. Small {{chem|H|2|S}} blooms have been detected in modern times in the Dead Sea and in the Atlantic ocean off the coast of Namibia.MAGAZINE,weblink Impact from the Deep, Scientific American, October 2006,

See also

  • {{annotated link|Amine gas treating}}
  • {{annotated link|Gaseous signaling molecules|aka=Gasotransmitters}}
  • {{annotated link|Hydrogen chalcogenide}}
  • {{annotated link|Targeted temperature management|aka=Induced hypothermia}}
  • {{annotated link|Jenkem}}
  • {{annotated link|Sewer gas}}



Additional resources

  • BOOK, Hydrogen Sulfide, Committee on Medical and Biological Effects of Environmental Pollutants, University Park Press, 1979, Baltimore, 978-0-8391-0127-7,
  • THESIS, MS, Siefers, Andrea, A novel and cost-effective hydrogen sulfide removal technology using tire derived rubber particles, Iowa State University, 2010,weblink 8 February 2013,

External links

{{commons category}} {{Hydrogen compounds}}{{Neurotransmitters}}{{Damp}}{{Sulfur compounds}}{{Molecules detected in outer space}}{{Hydrides by group}}{{Authority control}}

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