You’re walking to the next spot on your maintenance route when you get a whiff of rotten eggs that makes your nose hairs stand on end. It only lasts for a second, so you don’t think much of it. What you didn’t realize was that an unseen gas paralyzed your nose.
You’ve completely lost your guiding sense, and you’re about to walk into a cloud of invisible poison. Then you stop and remember your training. By recognizing the symptoms of hydrogen sulfide exposure, you can prevent disaster in the workplace.
Symptoms of Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure: Low Concentration
At very low concentrations, hydrogen sulfide has a distinctive rotten egg smell. Similarly, hydrogen sulfide trapped in water will have a distinct sulfurous taste. At higher concentrations, from about 20 parts per million (ppm) to 100 ppm, hydrogen sulfide stings the eyes and throat with its corrosive properties. That’s why it’s important to wear proper safety gear (goggles and respirators) when you suspect the presence of hydrogen sulfide.
Symptoms of Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure: Medium Concentration
Hydrogen sulfide accumulation of 100-250 ppm is where irritation turns to danger. Those caught in a hydrogen sulfide cloud will quickly develop a pounding headache, stomach sickness, and burning eyes and throat. Additionally, the gas stuns the nose, making it seem like the danger is gone.
At medium-high concentrations, victims can become confused and accidentally stumble further into danger. Breathing becomes difficult. Fluid quickly fills the lungs, making breathing even harder. Many victims vomit and suffer a loss of coordination that sends them uncontrollably staggering.
Symptoms of Hydrogen Sulfide Exposure: High Concentration
At 500 ppm, staggering turns to a complete loss of balance. Victims caught in the cloud stumble about, blinded and unable to breathe until they fall to the ground. Frightening as this is, it’s important to realize that hydrogen sulfide will do this to anyone without proper safety measures. Rushing into the scene without proper equipment and oxygen could result in further tragedy.
In the worst-case scenario, an incredible 750ppm and more, hydrogen sulfide will paralyze the lungs. The body is unable to breathe at all. At these extremely high concentrations, victims can pass away in minutes or even a single second. Worst of all, there’s no way to tell how deadly the area is without specialized equipment, such as an H2S detector.
If someone you love suffered wrongful death due to hydrogen sulfide exposure or if you were exposed to hydrogen sulfide due to negligent workplace safety measures, you may have a case. If you’d like an experienced attorney from Pringle & Herigstad to evaluate your hydrogen sulfide exposure case, please send us an email or call (701) 599-4337.