Maintaining a safe environment by continuously monitoring for the presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is critically important to the health and safety of your workers. With the right detection system, you can protect yourself and your facility from corrosion, fire, illness, and even death. To get started, it’s important to know how to test for the presence of hydrogen sulfide.

Can you detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide using smell alone? That approach may be less reliable than you might think.

Hydrogen sulfide is a highly toxic gas that is readily detectable in small concentrations, but high levels of H2S can impair your sense of smell, making it much harder to detect dangerous leaks. The effects of hydrogen sulfide poisoning can range from shortness of breath to convulsions and imminent death. Given the potential dangers, the importance of H2S gas detection can’t be ignored. Do you have a way to detect and measure the hydrogen sulfide in your air?

Popular Uses of H2S Gas

Hydrogen sulfide is predominantly used in the production of sulfuric acid and elemental sulfur. Products such as pesticides, leather, paints, and pharmaceuticals all contain a measure of hydrogen sulfide in their makeup. Whether it’s used as a reagent in a chemical reaction or as a byproduct of natural gas emissions, the presence of H2S gas is a daily occurrence for many workers.

Evaluating Potential Risks

To accurately measure hydrogen sulfide gas in your facility, it’s important to evaluate any potential risks. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where are the hydrogen sulfide sources located?
  • Is there any nearby equipment that could catch fire or explode?
  • What type of personal protective equipment is worn by workers?
  • Are there any confined spaces that lack oxygen?

Pro Tip: Low oxygen levels can affect the performance of H2S detectors. Install an oxygen depletion sensor to ensure accurate readings.

Testing for High Concentrations of H2S

With every new technological advance and scientific study, engineers have manufactured better ways to detect high gas emissions. Analyzers such as colorimetric gas detection tubes require manual operation and traditional lead acetate tape doesn’t provide accurate results. While the “rotten egg” smell may help signal H2S gas leaks, it’s important to have monitoring equipment that won’t break down over time.

GDS Corp provides both gas detectors and gas sensors designed to work in a number of hazardous areas. Every situation may warrant a different solution, which is why our selection of H2S products are fully customizable. You can choose from a number of components to configure your detection system correctly, such as:

  • Fixed Gas Detectors – Fixed gas detectors are used to detect the presence of hydrogen sulfide in ambient air. These depend on the diffusion of toxic gases from areas of high concentrations (leak source) to areas of lower concentration (gas detector). Since hydrogen sulfide is heavier than air, in most cases fixed detectors should be mounted down low to the ground. 
  • Sample Draw DetectorsSample draw monitors pull a sample from a fixed location and measure the gas in real-time. These are extremely useful when used to measure sumps, storage areas, and other relatively inaccessible locations. 
  • Open Path Detectors – These use a beam of infrared light to detect the presence of relatively high levels of hydrogen sulfide that may exist between two points some distance apart. These can prove useful as ‘early warning’ devices when monitoring a fence line or area between two buildings. 

Sense of Smell isn’t Enough

Unlike other toxic gases, hydrogen sulphide can be identified by an odor. That smell, distinct as it is, isn’t very reliable when it comes to detecting leaks. Due to a process known as olfactory desensitization, high concentrations of H2S gas can cause your sense of smell to disappear. For facilities or treatment plants dealing regularly with hydrogen sulfide, it’s important to have a detector you can trust.

Connect with our sales team to view our full line of fixed H2S gas detection systems.