Highly toxic, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas can be produced in large quantities in animal farms, industrial plants, sewers or sewage treatment plants, and has a distinctive and unpleasant rotten egg smell causing frequent odor complaints.
H2S gas is a consequence of anaerobic mechanisms at low pH which favor sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB), and results in the generation of this poisonous “rotten egg” gas in sewers.
People can usually smell hydrogen sulfide at very low concentrations in the air, ranging from 0.0005 to 0.3 parts per million (ppm). There is no way to tell whether concentrations of hydrogen sulfide are low or high by smell alone.
In fact, very hazardous concentrations (>100ppm) will temporarily eliminate ability to smell the gas. You should not rely on your nose to evaluate possible H2S danger!
Hydrogen sulfide levels can change based on a number of factors such as fluctuations from the source, or from changes in weather patterns.
In general, low pH and high temperature tend to favor evaporation of hydrogen sulfide, putting people and infrastructure at higher risks.
Odorous emissions from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) can create a nuisance for surrounding neighborhoods. As population increases, houses are being built closer to WWTPs, with buffer zones around WWTPs that offer protection from unwanted odors decreasing. In many councils around Australia, there is a growing pressure to control odorous emissions.
Emissions of odorous compounds increase during the summer months, not only because of increased H2S volatility (evaporation) but also because of an increase in anaerobic bacterial activity, as oxygen is less soluble at higher temperatures.
It is recommended that plant operators measure H2S more regularly in the summer months, and step up odor control measures, such as dosing Magnesium Hydroxide, which keeps the pH high and stops the formation of H2S from dissolved sulfides.
Unlike other agents, which can be costly, potentially hazardous, and targeted at a single issue, Magnesium Hydroxide offers a safe and cost-effective strategy for managing odor.Find out more