Home Podcasts THMG060 – Hydrogen Sulfide, Part II

THMG060 – Hydrogen Sulfide, Part II


In this episode, we conclude our exploration of hydrogen sulfide by discussing decontamination, treatment, transport, and mitigation.

Complete Show Notes

2:40 Decontamination and Hydrogen Sulfide

  • Before we decide how to help a person who’s been exposed to hydrogen sulfide, we need to figure out what needs to be done to keep the victim safe from this chemical
  • According to the ATSDR – a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry – if a person has no skin or eye irritation, there’s no need to decon and they can be sent right to the staging area you’ve set up for treatment
  • If there is skin or eye irritation, use copious amounts of water
  • Decontaminating an unconscious patient has its own set of rules

4:15 Treating Patients Exposed to Hydrogen Sulfide

  • BLS are the strongest and most powerful weapons we have in our arsenal
  • The basic ABC can go a long way – this stands for airway, breathing, and circulation
  • If the patient’s heart is still beating, it’s important to get them on a cardiac monitor – look for changes in rhythm and treat them as per your local protocols
  • If there are airway issues, always stabilize the area – one common effect is bronchospasm – if aerosolized bronchodilators are in your local protocols, use them
  • H2S isn’t known to pose any risk to using bronchial or cardiac sensitizing agents
  • If a child is exposed to hydrogen sulfide and develops stridor, the ATSDR recommends racemic epinephrine aerosol at 2.25% in 2.5 CC of water every 20 minutes
  • Always keep an eye out for myocardial variability and check your local protocols

5:55 Uses of Hydrogen Sulfide

  • This is important because understanding how they’re used can help us pre-plan for areas where we might see them
  • No use for H2S in home settings – if there’s an issue with sewer gas, cap the pipe of the fill tank
  • However, hydrogen sulfide has a lot of uses in the industry and lab type settings
  • It’s important to understand the CFR transportation tables – this is a great source of information and helps us understand the big picture of chemical transportation possibilities

6:50 CFR 49.172

  • The first column for hydrogen sulfide doesn’t have a symbol – this is fine, as plenty of chemicals don’t have symbols
  • Column 2 gives us the proper shipping name – in this case, it’s simply hydrogen sulfide
  • Column 3 contains the hazard gas or division – hydrogen sulfide is in Class 2.3, which is DOT speak for poisonous gasses – this is the number we see on our placard
  • Column 4 is our UN or DOT ID number – for H2S, we’re looking for 1053
  • Column 5 provides our packing group – keep in mind that Class 2, Class 7, and Division 6.2 aren’t assigned packing groups – this doesn’t mean the substance doesn’t have a major hazard, though
  • Column 6 gives us information on the hard warning labels required for a package filled with the material – there are two label requirements for H2S
    • The first is 2.3 – this means it’s a gas and then a poison
    • 2.1 label indicates that it’s a flammable gas
    • This is the first indication we have from the table that the primary hazard is that it’s poisonous
  • Column 7 is Special Provisions and contains about 8 codes (covered under 49 CFR 172.102) – the best way to find them is through Google
    • The first code is 2, which basically just states that the substance is poisonous and must be labeled as such
    • Code B9 tells us that bottom outlets aren’t authorized
    • B14 means that bulk packing must have insulated materials between them to protect against heat transfer – there’s even a reading in kilojoules per hour per square meter per degrees Celsius
    • N89 is pretty important – tells us that when steel UN pressure receptacles are used, only those bearing the “H” mark are authorized
      • Interestingly, the presence of some compounds containing hydrogen can actually cause a process known as hydrogen embrittlement
      • The metal undergoes reduced ductility and toughness to the point where it cracks open – this is also known as hydrogen-induced cracking or HIC and is a result of the hydrogen diffusing through the metal
    • IB8 describes the types of metals that can be used
    • IP2 tells us that when non-metal or non-plastic IBCs are used, they must be offered for transportation in a closed freight container or a closed transport vehicle
    • IP4 states that flexible, fiberboard, or wooden IBCs must be sift-proof and water-resistant or fitted with a sift-proof and water-resistant liner
    • N3 tells us that glass inner packaging is permitted in combination with composite packaging only if the hazardous material is free from hydrofluoric acid
  • Finally, Column 8 has several sections – the first is exceptions – H2S is categorized as “none,” which means there are no deviations from what’s listed in Column 7

11:35 Mitigating Hydrogen Sulfide

  • Luckily, H2S is more of a byproduct gas than a commonly transported gas – however, it can be found in cylinder form
  • We can handle leaking cylinders using any of the same methods used for a chlorine tank
  • If you can check the gaskets and metals, you may be able to use a kit for chlorine, ammonia, or sulfur dioxide
  • You can also use a containment vessel if you have one on hand
  • Most of the exposures we respond to are in the oil, gas, and refinery worlds
  • Most of these places have systems to deal with hydrogen sulfide leaks, but there have been a few cases of catastrophic H2S releases that killed both workers and civilians
  • If you’re dealing with a well that has broken open, a community defensive action may be your best bet
  • If you’re handling a leak from a facility, it’s important to support the employees – some of them may be trained in certain aspects of their equipment, so let them take the lead and be there to support

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