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Acute Exposure Guideline Levels for Selected Airborne Chemicals: Volume 9
effects. However, the effects are not disabling and are transient and reversible upon cessation of exposure.
AEGL-2 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience irreversible or other serious, long-lasting adverse health effects or an impaired ability to escape.
AEGL-3 is the airborne concentration (expressed as ppm or mg/m3) of a substance above which it is predicted that the general population, including susceptible individuals, could experience life-threatening health effects or death.
Airborne concentrations below the AEGL-1 represent exposure levels that could produce mild and progressively increasing but transient and nondisabling odor, taste, and sensory irritation or certain asymptomatic, nonsensory effects. With increasing airborne concentrations above each AEGL, there is a progressive increase in the likelihood of occurrence and the severity of effects described for each corresponding AEGL. Although the AEGLs represent threshold levels for the general public, including susceptible subpopulations, such as infants, children, the elderly, persons with asthma, and those with other illnesses, it is recognized that individuals, subject to idiosyncratic responses, could experience the effects described at concentrations below the corresponding AEGL.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a colorless, flammable gas at ambient temperature and pressure. It has an odor similar to that of rotten eggs and is both an irritant and an asphyxiant. The air odor threshold ranges between 0.008 and 0.13 ppm, and olfactory fatigue may occur at 100 ppm. Paralysis of the olfactory nerve has been reported at 150 ppm (Beauchamp et al. 1984). Mean ambient air concentrations for H2S range between 0.00071 and 0.066 ppm.
Controlled human data were used to derive AEGL-1 values. Three of 10 volunteers with asthma exposed to H2S at 2 ppm for 30 min complained of headache and 8 of 10 experienced nonsignificant increased airway resistance (Jappinen et al. 1990). As there were no clinical symptoms of respiratory difficulty and there were no significant changes in forced vital capacity (FVC) or forced expiratory volume in 1 second (FEV1), the AEGL-1 was based exclusively on increased complaints of headache in the three volunteers (Jappinen et al. 1990). A modifying factor of 3 was applied to account for the wide variability in complaints associated with the foul odor of H2S and the shallow concentration response at the relatively low concentrations that are consistent with definition of the AEGL-1. The 30-min experimental value was scaled to the 10-min and 1-, 4-, and 8-h time points by using the concentration-exposure duration relationship, C4.4 × t = k, where C is concentration, t is time, and k is a constant. The exponent 4.4 was derived from rat lethality data ranging from 10-min to 6-h exposures.