Public Lab Wiki documentation

Hydrogen Sulfide

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This is the organizing page for research related to hydrogen sulfide in Public Lab.

(above: DIY colorimetric strips reacting to H2S by @megan)

What is hydrogen sulfide, what are its effects, and where is it found?

Hydrogen sulfide, with the chemical formula H2S, is a flammable gas that has a pungent odor at low concentrations and is odorless at higher concentrations. It can be a respiratory irritant and a neurotoxin. Read more about hydrogen sulfide health effects.

Hydrogen sulfide is naturally formed in low-oxygen conditions with sulfate present, such as in organic-rich sediments and thus in petrochemical source rocks. Upon exposure to oxygen, hydrogen sulfide readily oxidizes to sulfur dioxide or sulfate, and generally reacts within hours to days. Read more about hydrogen sulfide sources and spatial and temporal variation

How are hydrogen sulfide emissions and exposures regulated?

In the United States, hydrogen sulfide emissions are only federally regulated to the extent that they contribute to sulfur dioxide formation, and thus acid rain. These emissions are regulated through the Prevention of Significant Deterioration of major stationary sources review and permitting. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide is mostly regulated in terms of occupational exposure, with very few states regulating ambient exposure to this toxin. Read more about hydrogen sulfide regulations

How can hydrogen sulfide be measured?

While there is no federal regulatory method for hydrogen sulfide in the US, labs, agencies, and oilfield workers often measure hydrogen sulfide gas through several different means:

  • badges or glass tubes that change color
  • continuously sampling electronic sensors, some worn by oilfield workers
  • air grab sampling, as by the Bucket Brigades, tested with gas chromatography

We're compiling information about the pros, cons, prices, and sensitivity/limitations of these techniques: What are different commercially available hydrogen sulfide detection methods?

Do-It-Yourself approaches to detection

There are three prototype, low-cost hydrogen sulfide detection methods currently being explored by Public Lab community members. These include:

Help out! Please help link the above bullet points to corresponding pages across this site.


We can't make progress on these techniques and resources without addressing our unknowns. Please ask questions to help shape the direction of our work!

Title Author Updated Likes Comments
What are health and environmental concerns for sewage smell in a home? @stevie over 2 years ago 3
Is there more information on the "Corrosion Coupon" hydrogen sulfide test kit? @warren over 6 years ago 0
What lab tests are available for hydrogen sulfide, and how much do they cost? @warren over 6 years ago 4
What are different commercially available hydrogen sulfide detection methods? @warren over 6 years ago 3
Does your state have air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 0
Are there occupational exposure rules limiting exposure to hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 1
Are there air quality standards for hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 1
How to select a site for hydrogen sulfide testing? @warren over 6 years ago 3
How can we safely try out and evaluate a hydrogen sulfide test? @warren over 6 years ago 4
What's the best setup for a copper rod or copper plate test for DIY hydrogen sulfide detection? @warren over 6 years ago 6
Can we determine hydrogen sulfide concentration, or a threshold presence/absence using the copper pipe method? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 0
What is the hydrogen sulfide concentration range that can be monitored using a copper tarnish method? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 1
Effective low-cost water filters to remove hydrogen sulfide? @gretchengehrke over 6 years ago 2
What methods are available for doing air grab samples for hydrogen sulfide? @stevie almost 7 years ago 2
What are the relative rates of hydrogen sulfide oxidation in ambient air? @gretchengehrke almost 7 years ago 1

Related pages

See other related wiki pages here


These activities are to guide you to test out hydrogen sulfide detection methods or use these tools in the field:

Activities should include a materials list, costs and a step-by-step guide to construction with photos. Learn what makes a good activity here.

Where can I find more information?

Two particularly good resources are listed below. Other hydrogen sulfide wiki pages (mentioned above) include additional relevant resources.

  1. Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. 2016. Hydrogen Sulfide Fact Sheet.

  2. National Research Council. 2010. Acute Exposure Guidelines.