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Hydrogen Sulfide is an extremely toxic and irritating gas. Free hydrogen sulfide in the blood reduces its oxygen-carrying capacity, thereby depressing the nervous system. Hydrogen sulfide is oxidized quite rapidly to sulfates in the body, therefore no permanent aftereffects occur in cases of recovery from acute exposures unless oxygen deprivation of the nervous system is prolonged. There is no evidence that repeated exposures to hydrogen sulfide result in accumulative or systemic poisoning. Effects such as eye irritation, respiratory tract irritation, slow pulse rate, lassitude, digestive disturbances, and cold sweats may occur but these symptoms disappear in a relatively short time after removal from the exposure.

Odors become detectable in concentrations as low as .008 parts per million (ppm)
but the sense of smell is lost after 2-15 minutes at 100 ppm.

Physiological response:

10 ppm

Beginning eye irritation

50-100 ppm

Slight conjunctivitis and respiratory tract irritation after 1 hour exposure

100 ppm

Coughing, eye irritation, loss of sense of smell after 2-15 minutes. Altered respiration, pain in the eyes and drowsiness after 15-30 minutes followed by throat irritation after 1 hour. Several hours exposure results in gradual increase in severity of these symptoms and death may occur within the next 48 hours.

200-300 ppm

Marked conjunctivitis and respiratory tract irritation after 1 hour of exposure

500-700 ppm

Loss of consciousness and possibly death in 30 minutes to 1 hour.

700-1000 ppm

Rapid unconsciousness, cessation of respiration and death.

1000-2000 ppm

Unconsciousness at once, with early cessation of respiration and death in a few minutes. Death may occur even if individual is removed to fresh air at once.

To avoid discomfort, the (8 hour) time weighted average concentration of hydrogen sulfide shall not exceed 10 ppm.


This information excerpted from the American National Standards Institute standard: Z37.2-1972 Acceptable Concentrations of Hydrogen Sulfide.

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What are the Effects of Hydrogen Sulfide - H2S?
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