RESEARCH PAPER
Health effects of exposure to hydrogen sulphide (H2S) in the inhabitants of the area of ventilation shaft of copper mine
 
More details
Hide details
1
Katedra i Klinika Reumatologii i Chorób Wewnętrznych, Uniwersytet Medyczny im. Piastów Śląskich we Wrocławiu
2
Katedra i Klinika Chorób Wewnętrznych, Zawodowych i Nadciśnienia Tętniczego, Uniwersytet Medyczny im. Piastów Śląskich we Wrocławiu
3
Miedziowe Centrum Zdrowia S.A., Lubin
CORRESPONDING AUTHOR
Marta Skoczyńska   

Katedra i Klinika Reumatologii i Chorób Wewnętrznych Uniwersytet Medyczny im. Piastów Śląskich we Wrocławiu ul. Borowska 213, 50-556 Wrocław
 
Med Srod. 2018;21(3):14–21
 
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Introduction:
The presence of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in areas of copper mines’ ventilation shafts’ impact is periodically perceived by inhabitants as a characteristic odor. The olfactory detection threshold for H2S is 0.007 mg/m3. Hydrogen sulfide in concentrations >20 mg/m3 irritates conjunctiva and mucous membranes. At higher concentrations, it blocks intracellular respiratory enzymes and acts as a neurotoxin.

Aim:
The aim of the study was to assess the effects of hydrogen sulphide in a group of exposed inhabitants living in the copper mine area, in particular on olfactory function, the most sensitive to toxic H2S action.

Material and Methods:
In 2013–2015, three groups were examined: 165 inhabitants of the copper mine area aged 48.2±17.9 (study group); 124 inhabitants non-exposed to H2S aged 52.4±13.5 (control group) and 46 miners of the copper mine, occupationally exposed to H2S. Medical surveys, physical exams, blood tests for H2S concentration and basic biochemical parameters, and smell examinations using the Sniffin Sticks – Screening kit were carried out.

Results:
Residents from the study group most frequently reported the discomfort associated with the unpleasant odor, as well as burning, itching and watery eyes, a runny nose and scratching in the throat, in the absence of changes on physical examination. In 60% of examined residents, normosmia was diagnosed, 34% had hyposmia and 6% had anosmia. The results were comparable to those obtained in the control group. In the group of miners, no significant olfactory disturbances were found. In all studied groups, the most common changes in the health status were lipid pattern disturbances and hypertension.

Conclusions:
In our study, no toxic effects of periodic H2S exposure on the olfactory organ were found, and the main consequence of H2S action was the discomfort associated with the unpleasant odor.

 
REFERENCES (15)
1.
Weil E.D., Sandler S.R., Gernon M.: Sulfur Compounds. In Kirk-Othmer Encyclopedia of Chemical Technology (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2006).
 
2.
Stetkiewicz J.: Siarkowodór. Dokumentacja dopuszczalnych wielkości narażenia zawodowego. Pod. i Metod. Oceny Środowiska Pr. 2011;4: 97–117.
 
3.
European Union. Scientific Committee on Occupational Exposure Limits (SCOEL), Hydrogen Sulphide – Occupational Exposure Limits and Biological Limit Values. 2007.
 
4.
Costigan M.G.: Hydrogen sulfide: UK occupational exposure limits. Occup. Environ. Med. 2003;60: 308–312.
 
5.
Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants: Volume 3 Committee on Emergency and Continuous Exposure Guidance Levels for Selected Submarine Contaminants; Committee on Toxicology; National Research Council.
 
6.
ATSDR. Toxicological Profile for Hydrogen Sulfide and Carbonyl Sulfide. 2016.
 
7.
Brenneman K.A. et al.: Olfactory Mucosal Necrosis in Male CD Rats Following Acute Inhalation Exposure to Hydrogen Sulfide: Reversibility and the Possible Role of Regional Metabolism. Toxicol. Pathol. 2002;30: 200–208.
 
8.
Mousa H.A.-L.: Short-term effects of subchronic low-level hydrogen sulfide exposure on oil field workers. Environ. Health Prev. Med. 2015;20: 12–17.
 
9.
Savolainen H.: Nordiskaexpertgruppen for gransvardesdokumentation. 40. Dihydrogen-sulfid. [Nordic expert group for TLV evaluation. 40. Hydrogen sulfide]. Arbetaochhdlsa. 1982;31: 1–27.
 
10.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE), EH40/2005. Workplace Exposure Limits. 2005.
 
11.
Lewis R.J., Copley G.B.: Chronic low-level hydrogen sulfide exposure and potential effects on human health: A review of the epidemiological evidence. Crit. Rev. Toxicol. 2015;45: 93–123.
 
12.
Bełtowski J., Jamroz-Wiśniewska A.: Hydrogen sulfide and endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation. Molecules. 2014(19)12: 21183-21199.
 
13.
Haouzi P.: Is exogenous hydrogen sulfide a relevant tool to address physiological questions on hydrogen sulfide? Respir. Physiol. Neurobiol. 2016;229: 5–10.
 
14.
Jones K.: Case studies of hydrogen sulphide occupational exposure incidents in the UK. Toxicol. Lett. 2014;231: 374– 377.
 
15.
Cao X. et al.: A review of hydrogen sulfide synthesis, metabolism and measurement: Is modulation of hydrogen sulfide a novel therapeutic for cancer? Antioxid. Redox Signal. ars.2017.7058 (2018). doi:10.1089/ars.2017.7058.
 
eISSN:2084-6312
ISSN:1505-7054