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TABLE 7–1 Physical and Chemical Properties for Hydrogen Sulfide



Common name

Hydrogen sulfide


Hydrosulfuric acid, sulfuric hydride, sulfurated hydrogen, dihydrogen monosulfide, dihydrogen sulfide, stink damp, sewer gas

Chemical formula


Chemical structure


CAS number


Molecular weight


Physical state

Colorless gas

Odor threshold

0.02–0.13 ppm

Freezing point


Boiling point


Flash temperature


Flammable limits in air

4.3–46% by volume

Vapor pressure

10.8 atm (0°C), 18.5 atm (20°C)

Specific gravity



1.5392 g/L at 0°C, 760 mmHg


1 g in 242 mL water at 20°C; soluble in alcohol, ether, glycerol, gasoline, kerosene, crude oil, and carbon dioxide

Conversion factors in air

1 ppm=1.40 mg/m3

1 mg/m3=0.7 ppm

Abbreviations: CAS, Chemical Abstract Service.

Sources: Beauchamp et al. (1984); NRC (1985); ATSDR (1999).

Hydrogen sulfide has been widely used as a reagent in analytical chemistry. Its major use is in the production of elemental sulfur and sulfuric acid (ATSDR 1999). It is also used in the manufacture of heavy water for the nuclear energy industry, in the production of sodium sulfide and thiophenes, in rayon manufacturing, as an agricultural disinfectant, and as an additive in lubricants.

Most of the hydrogen sulfide in the atmosphere—approximately 90%— comes from natural sources through nonspecific and anaerobic bacterial reduction of sulfates and sulfur-containing organic compounds (ATSDR 1999). These sources include stagnant or polluted waters and manure or coal pits with low

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