H₂S Dangers and Detection - All about H2S Dangers and Monitoring

H₂S Dangers and Detection

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Reducing the risks of H2S exposure in the processing industry

No matter whether on a greenfield or brownfield, or during field exploration, development or closure, hydrogen sulfide (H2S) presents a constant threat to workers and rescuers in any phase of oil and gas exploration and production. However, this is not the only area in which H2S exposure may occur. It also poses as a problem in the chemical industry, the heavy and metal industry and even in the pulp and paper industry. That’s why safety management should focus on H2S detection and monitoring, incident prevention and rescue preparedness. At Dräger, we are well-versed with precise measurement of H2S, monitoring of H2S release spots and emergency escape concepts – and you can have trust in us to help you carry out your work safely.

H2S dangers: knowledge can save lives

Hydrogen sulfide, is a highly toxic gas, and can unexpectedly occur during routine work, especially at nearly every workplace in the oil or gas industry. Incidents with high concentrations of H2S can lead to severe negative health effects, or even to death, within seconds. It’s important to understand the implications of this hazardous substance because good knowledge of precise H2S monitoring can save lives.

e-book H2S exposure

H2S exposure: knowledge can save lives

Hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas, can unexpectedly occur during routine work. This guide will help you better assess potentially dangerous situations involving hydrogen sulfide.

Download e-book

Hydrogen sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide: highly explosive and toxic

As hydrogen sulfide is toxic even in low concentrations, detection of this gas is imperative. In very low concentrations it is easily noticeable as it smells like rotten eggs. However, lethal concentrations of H2S cannot be nasally detected. Due to severe negative health effects, it’s important to learn all about the implications of this hazardous substance.

What does H2S exposure do the human body?

Even at low levels, exposure to hydrogen sulfide is a serious risk to people. With regard to occupational safety, learn more about its effects and possible health risks. What happens as H2S levels rise? Know the warning signs:

0-20 ppm

Low level: H2S exposure 0-20ppm

Ranges from recognition of the odor and the limitation of the sense of smell to nose and throat irritation, headaches, fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbance, loss of appetite and many more. Prolonged exposure can even cause bronchitis and pneumonia.

21-99 ppm

Mid level: H2S exposure 21-99ppm

At these levels, respiratory and eye protection must be worn! Affected employees will experience strong, unpleasant, but not intolerable odor. If the level rises, the odor becomes sickly sweet and prolonged exposure will lead, among other things, to serious eye damage, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

100-1000 ppm

High level: H2S exposure 100-1000ppm

At these levels, Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) limits have been exceeded. The consequences are immediate irritation of eyes and respiratory tract, within minutes the sense of smell is paralysed, followed by unconsciousness leading to death within the hour.

infographic: H2S in the oil and gas industry

H2S in the oil and gas industry

Our infographic illustrates at a glance the impacts, traits and protection against hydrogen sulfide.

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Dräger VOICE

H2S exposure limits

To get an immediate overview of H2S exposure limits, facts and features plus suitable H2S detectors and H2S respirators visit VOICE, our hazardous substance database.

View H2S in VOICE

Detection and monitoring of H2S dangers

Hydrogen sulfide is one of the most commonly occurring hazardous substances in the oil and gas industry. It is colourless and builds up at ground level, therefore continuous monitoring, early detection and assessment of the present hydrogen sulfide concentrations is crucial. H2S gas monitors help workers stay safe in hazardous environments. They are designed to alert employees when a previously determined minimum or maximum set point of H2S has been reached.

Strategies for H2S monitoring

When it comes to choosing the right measuring and monitoring strategy it is important to consider the scope of time for the area monitoring and the possible H2S concentration. Different phases in oil and gas mining projects require different H2S detectors.

Test drillings

Proceed based on geological forecast. H2S content is yet unclear.

Assessment phase

No continuous monitoring, but personal monitoring possible when the field is being inspected.

Development phase

Mobile area monitoring, following the work advance.


Continuous monitoring necessary over a long period (ca. > 10 years), stationary gas equipment installation recommended.

EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery)

The drilling of oil through injection of compressed gases in deeplying rock layers increases the risk of a sudden release of extremely high H2S concentrations.

Overview: H2S monitoring

H2S dangers especially in the oil and gas industry frequently occur in areas with highly adverse environmental conditions: Extreme heat or cold, salt water and dust formation as well as the corrosive effect of H2S cannot negatively influence the reaction capability and measurement performance of detectors. Stationary and mobile measuring devices must be able to measure and alert under the hardest of industrial application conditions – reliably around the clock.

H2S monitoring

H2S monitoring in the oil and gas industry

Prevention measures against H2S dangers are crucial and can be implemented successfully with the right amount of know-how, training and good measurement strategies.

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Safe at every step: H2S detectors


Dräger SensorAlive H₂S

The Dräger SensorAlive is an electrochemical sensor with an integrated gas generator. The gas generator enables daily automatic sensor testing with hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as the test gas.

Quasar SafEye™ 950 and 960

Dräger Quasar SafEye™ 950 and 960

In order to monitor larger distances and plant areas these highly specialised open-path UV gas detection systems provide reliable gas leak monitoring and allows gas detection along an open measuring section.

Dräger Polytron® 8100

Dräger Polytron® 8100 EC

The Polytron® 8100 EC is Dräger’s top of the line explosion proof transmitter for the detection of toxic gases or oxygen.

Dräger Pac® 6000

Dräger Pac® 6000

The disposable personal single-gas detection device, Dräger Pac® 6000, measures CO, H2S, SO2 or O2 reliably and precisely, even in the toughest conditions.

Dräger X-am® 5000

Dräger X-am® 5000

The Dräger X-am® 5000 is a 1- to 5-gas detector reliably measures combustible gases and vapors as well as oxygen and harmful concentrations of toxic gases, organic vapors, odorant and amine.

H2S gas monitors for short-term flexible deployment with wireless solutions

While a prospective field of work is being explored, it’s not worth it to install permanent gas detection systems at that time. Here’s where a short-term deployment comes in. The Dräger X-zone 5500 transforms the Dräger personal gas detection instruments X-am 5000 and 5600 into flexible area monitoring devices. Or there is a need to set up a reliable gas warning system in the plant areas, which require mobile solutions, are difficult to reach or do not provide any infrastructure. The Polytron 6100 EC WL wireless gas detection transmitter reduces your planning effort required whilst retaining the same safety levels provided by a wired transmitter.

Mobile gas monitoring

Quick & easy: Mobile gas monitoring

Learn more about how to find an efficient solution for short-term deployments.

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Protection against H2S

To ensure that oil field workers are adequately protected from H2S dangers even in the case of extraordinary high concentrations, they must have H2S respirators with a correspondingly high protection factor available.

Safe breathing - even with extremely high H2S concentrations

In this video you can learn more about the severe implications of H2S exposure and how to protect your staff from harm

Knowledge on respiratory protection

H2S respiratory protection
white paper: H2S respiratory protection

Improve your safety level with knowledge about protection factors and test methods.

How to be prepared for high H2S exposure
How to be prepared for high H2S exposure

Realistic tests of self-contained breathing apparatus demonstrate that you can protect yourself even from extreme H2S dangers.

Escape from H2S environments

In H2S scenarios there is no time to lose, every second counts. The choice of respirators and their proper use are critical to protect the lives of workers. To determine the most appropriate escape respirator for an H2S event emergency response plan, the degrees of severity that the event will present and the potential H2S exposure levels must be assessed. Correlating standards and guidelines that vary globally need to be taken into account. Given the great health hazards caused by H2S, only reliable protective equipment can save lives.

How to identify the best H2S escape respirator

Infographic: Choosing the right emergency escape devices
Choosing the right emergency escape devices

For every emergency there is an appropriate H2S respirator at hand. Use this escape chart to find out which one is the most suitable. Consider every possible emergency scenario. Download this emergency escape chart to help you plan.

The best escape respirator: everything you need to know
The best escape respirator

Deepen your knowledge of how to choose the best escape breathing apparatus for your emergency response plan.

At Dräger we offer you a broad range of rescue and escape devices

Life-threatening situations can occur in seconds. When choosing the appropriate H2S respirator the possible health hazards, the time needed for escape and other individual criteria are of the essence.

Dräger Saver PP

Dräger Saver PP

Dräger Oxy® 3000/6000 MK II
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Dräger Oxy® 3000/6000 MK II

Get in touch with Dräger


Draeger Singapore Pte Ltd

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The Galen #04-01
Singapore 117525

+65 6872 9288

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No. 6, Jalan 15/22, Taman Perindustrian Tiong Nam, Seksyen 15, 40200 Shah Alam,
Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia

+60 3 5526 2000

Draeger Philippines Corporation

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Pasig City 1605 Metro Manila, Philippines

+63 2 8470 3825


Not all products, features, or services are for sale in all countries. Please contact your local Dräger representative for more information.