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Hydrogen Sulfide to be Reported for Toxic Release Inventory

March 29th, 2010

Hydrogen SulfideEPA has announced plans to require reporting for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and is accepting public comments until April 27, 2010. Under the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), the EPA will require H2S reporting estimates of all on-site releases and off-site transfers for disposal by each facility that meets the manufacture thresholds for hydrogen sulfide. Manufacturing limits for H2S emissions are 25,000 pounds per year, process limits are 25,000 pounds per year, and “other” use is 10,000 pounds per year.

H2S is a gas that can be absorbed rapidly through the lungs and through the gastrointestinal tract. In animals and humans, it can distribute to the blood, brain, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, and kidneys. H2S often results from the bacterial break down of sulfur-containing organic matter in the absence of oxygen, like in swamps and sewers (anaerobic digestion) or in the manufacturing process at coke ovens, paper mills, tanneries and wastewater treatment facilities. H2S also occurs in volcanic gases, natural gas, wetlands and some groundwater. Small amounts of H2S occur in crude petroleum, but natural gas can contain up to 90%.

Hydrogen SulfideAccording to the EPA’s Federal Register, H2S has been under an administrative stay since 1994, which means that the EPA included the chemical on the toxic chemicals list, but decided TRI reports were not required until they resolved policy issues about the chemical.

EPA will issue a new Federal Register document responding to all comments received as well as take appropriate action once the public comment period is complete.


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9 Responses to “Hydrogen Sulfide to be Reported for Toxic Release Inventory”

  1. Michael Bielamowicz Says:

    Okay, before the EPA Shoves these regulations down the throat of businesses, has the EPA determined acceptable levels of release for H2S. Natural releases from decomposition can cause H2S. Understandably, there is harm that can be done when confined in areas with H2S fumes like Paper Mills and Water Treatment Plants, but in most cases these are fumes within specific areas. The dilution of H2S with the atmosphere should be acceptable. This is another regulation that will handcuff industry without a phase in policy. How about regulating Volcano’s? Will states be fined if they have a natural occur sulfur location?

    Why doesn’t the EPA regulate the Chinese Drywall that apparently is emmiting H2S gas into residential homes first?

  2. Dee O'Neill Says:

    Hello, you may wish to share your thoughts with the EPA during the public comment period. I would encourage you to contact them.

  3. Think Says:

    Interesting concept. H2S from volcanic gas emissions could be a hazard… Hmmm …

    But, are people exposed to high H2S concentrations in volcanic gas emissions? Wouldn’t the temperature mean that those people are already dead?

    Perhaps not hurting people has a place in corporate goals as well as profit. Localized point-source emissions can result in unhealthy exposures to this deadly gas. H2S can be deadly at concentrations below the sensitivity of the sense of smell. It also has the property of deadening the sense of smell so there is no warning of increased concentrations.

    Perhaps businessmen should ask themselves if they would like to have their families exposed to what they expose others. The Golden Rule — endorsed by religions as well. After answering that question, rant on, brother!

  4. Ron Says:

    OSHA has established limits on occupational exposure to H2S. Contrary to the previous comment, it is not deadly at concentrations below that detectable to the olfactories. It can be easily detected by smell at concentrations thousands of times lower than a fatal exposure. At “deadly” concentrations, the olfactory senses are overwhelmed, and the compound cannot be detected at all. If you can smell it, you’re probably safe (though it stinks).

    At issue is figuring out how to measure the quantity emitted. It is certainly a toxic compound, but one that is readily eliminated in natural processes. It is very easily oxidized to elemental sulfur, and on to SO2. Both sulfur and SO2 are already regulated, so I’m not at all certain that adding H2S to the list of monitored compounds is necessary for the protection of public health.

    By the way, business owners, and their families, ARE exposed to the same things they expose others to. Think.

  5. curtis Says:

    Even with this information, it will not resolve the real issue (impact) because no one will appropriately confirm the data obtained. Over-reporting and under-reporting is still not a mastered verification by those vested with the responsibilities to ensure risks are minimal. More so, instrumentation currently available is still crude regarding bio impact (dosimetry) and monitoring database programs (to track cumulative impact on individuals) are not active.
    The bottom line is funds inadequacy. If appropriate funding is set forth AND appropriate programs implemented, a more solid understanding of impact and prudent mitigation could be realized.

  6. Mike Bielamowicz Says:

    Dee, how do I share my thoughts with the EPA?

    Think Says; I can already tell that you don’t like business and that you are standing on one side of the fence. H2S is naturally occuring. Please look up Chinese Drywall in yahoo or google. Look at what is occuring to homeowners from Chinese Drywall, apparently made with ash from former power plants in China. I am not making this up. Volcano’s spew sulfur gases at the time of eruption. People who work in industry with H2S, commonly wear monitors which detect hazardous levels of the gas. This reflection is so bogus about H2S. A few years back the EPA set December 31, 2009 as the deadline for elimination of manufacturing R-22 for the air conditioning industry. R-22, was initiated when people thought hydro fluro carbons were emitted from former refrigerant blends. With the bogus science going around with regard to climate change, this government better review and reconsider its actions and how they affect the economy. I understnad the need to protect human life, but tell me how many people have you heard about dying form exposure to H2S? Please tell me?

  7. Dee O'Neill Says:

    You can submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–TRI–2009–0844, by one of the following methods: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
    • E-mail:
    • Mail: Office of Environmental Information (OEI) Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mail Code: 28221T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, DC 20460

    EPA’s policy is that all comments received will be included in the public docket without change and may be made available online at, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes information that’s Confidential Business Information (CBI).

  8. Jen Says:

    >I understand the need to protect human life, but tell me how many people have you heard about dying form exposure to H2S? Please tell me?


  9. Ron Says:

    I have heard of a few. OSHA has statistics on such accidents in their records. A quick survey of recent fatality summaries on their website shows 2 deaths over a period of 2 weeks. Both were workers in the petroleum industry, and were exposed to high concentrations of H2S. Low concentrations are generally not fatal, and H2S can be metabolized (it does not bio-accumulate).

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