Sulfur Testing

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Sulfur crystal - Eric Hunt, Wikipedia Reduced Sulfur Testing by ASTM D5504
Reduced sulfur compounds, such as sulfides and mercaptans, tend to have very distinctive odors that may be detected by the human olfactory system at extremely low concentrations. These odors are offensive to many individuals. ASTM D5504 is a useful method for the differentiation and quantification of many of these odor-causing sulfur compounds.Analytical testing dotsALS Environmental’s air quality laboratory performs ASTM D5504 to identify and quantify sulfur compounds from a variety of sources, such as:

Source Common Sulfur Compounds
Sewers and Wastewater Treatment Facilities Hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans, dimethyl sulfide
Landfills Hydrogen sulfide
Petrochemical Refineries Hydrogen sulfide, carbonyl sulfide, carbon disulfide
Odorants of Liquid Propane Ethyl mercaptan, dimethyl sulfide, tetrahydrothiophene
Odorants of Natural Gas tert-Butyl mercaptan, isopropyl mercaptan, n-propyl mercaptan, ethyl methyl sulfide
Pulp and Paper Mills Hydrogen sulfide, methyl mercaptan, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl sulfide
Composting Facilities Hydrogen sulfide, ethyl mercaptan, carbon disulfide, dimethyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, methyl mercaptan, propyl mercaptan
Livestock Activities Hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, carbonyl sulfide

Use of the ASTM 5504 method is appropriate in situations where sulfur odors are a concern and differentiation between them is desired. It also may be a useful tool during odor investigations when a complex matrix is present or the human receptors are unable to adequately characterize the odor.

Collection, Shipping and Analysis

Wastewater treatment facility

Wastewater treatment facility

Since many sulfur compounds are not stable in stainless steel canisters, such as Summa canisters, air samples for this analysis should be collected in Tedlar bags. When the odor is intermittent, unpredictable, or at a remote location, ALS Environmental may recommend the use of a Silco (glass lined) canister. Please contact the lab for more information on sampling media for sulfur compounds.

Due to the unstable and reactive nature of many sulfur compounds, full compliance of the method requires analysis of the samples within 24 hours of collection. Despite this short holding time, ALS Environmental receives samples from all over North America and performs analysis within holding time on a daily basis.

We recommend that our clients collect their sample as late in the day as their sampling plan allows, then ship the sample to the lab via priority overnight delivery. The sample then arrives at our location early in the day, ensuring analysis within the holding time. Analysis is performed following ASTM D5504, which is a gas chromatography method with sulfur chemiluminescence detection.

Learn more about Reduced Sulfur Testing by ASTM D5504 (PDF)...

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