Background: Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, odorless gas that may cause rapid loss of consciousness and respiratory depression without warning. It has produced toxicity in workers in numerous industries and occupations. Methods: A review of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (USBLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) for occupational deaths related to hydrogen sulfide from 1993 to 1999 was performed. Results: Fifty-two workers died of hydrogen sulfide toxicity in this 7-year period. Deaths were most commonly reported in workers who were white (85%), male (98%), and in their first year of employment with the company (48%). Common industries included waste management, petroleum, and natural gas. In 21% of cases, a co-worker died simultaneously or in the attempt to save the workers. Conclusions: Hydrogen sulfide toxicity is uncommon, but potentially deadly. Toxicity is predominantly in new workers and co-worker fatalities occur in a significant minority of cases. Proper training and education on the warning signs of hydrogen sulfide toxicity may help reduce worker fatalities.
- Hydrogen sulfide
- Occupational diseases
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health