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Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, can be a highly unpleasant and even dangerous substance, whether in liquid or gas form. This is why you need the right type of wastewater treatment to stay on top of the problem. Read on to discover more about hydrogen sulfide wastewater treatments.

Hydrogen Sulfide in Wastewater – The Key Hazards

Why is hydrogen sulfide such a problem? Take a look at some of the key dangers of this substance.

Health Risks

First and foremost, hydrogen sulfide is a toxic gas and has been linked to a range of different health complaints. Exposure to hydrogen sulfide can cause damage to the eyes, respiratory system, digestive system and nervous system. It can also cause dizziness and fainting, both of which have been linked to fatal incidents. High levels of exposure to hydrogen sulfide can put life at risk directly. Industrial facility managers have a duty to protect human life, and this includes controlling hydrogen sulfide levels.

Environmental Risks

While hydrogen sulfide is naturally occurring, elevated levels can still put local ecosystems under threat. The same symptoms discussed above can occur in wildlife, too, and can cause fatal toxicity. Facility management may be held responsible if released H2S results in ecological damage.


When hydrogen sulfide is suspended in water, it can be corrosive. Over time, this can significantly reduce the lifespan of wastewater solutions at the facility, which in turn leads to expensive replacement and repair work. If corrosion goes unchecked, leakages, collapses, and other malfunctions can occur, putting human life at risk. It is far safer and cost-effective to manage hydrogen sulfide proactively, eliminating the need to replace corroded infrastructure.

Bad Odors

Hydrogen sulfide gas has a strong and unpleasant odor, similar to that of rotten eggs. The gas is often referred to as sewer gas, and this gives some indication of its scent. When H2S gas is released around your facility, the result is an unpleasant and potentially dangerous environment for anyone on your site. Even at lower levels, the scent of rotten eggs may also be strong in the surrounding area. At best, this is going to damage your reputation in the local community, and at worst, it is a severe public health risk.

How Is Hydrogen Sulfide formed in Wastewater?

To learn how to combat the formation of hydrogen sulfide in wastewater, we first need to understand how this substance is formed in the first place. Creating hydrogen sulfide requires only a source of hydrogen and a source of sulfur – as these elements are abundant all around us, the formation of H2S is a genuine concern. Learn more about some of the most common scenarios that lead to its formation.

Bacterial Decomposition of Matter

When bacteria break down animal and plant matter, hydrogen sulfide may be released into the surrounding atmosphere. This is one way hydrogen sulfide is produced naturally when plant and animal matter collects and begins to decompose. This is often the case in bogs or on swampy ground.

Low Oxygen Environments

Hydrogen sulfide is formed by a chemical reaction, which means the conditions of the area and the presence of other reactants will play a role. Typically, H2S is formed when there is plant and animal matter, sulfate, and a lack of oxygen. The oxygen deficiency contributes to the formation of hydrogen sulfide – high oxygen environments will not produce H2S.

Oil and Gas Waste

While hydrogen sulfide can be produced naturally, industrial processes can accelerate this. The presence of sulfates or other sources of sulfur in wastewater can lead to higher levels of H2S. Petrochemical waste may be rich in these sulfates and sources of sulfur.

Construction Waste

Calcium sulfate is often used in the construction industry and can end up in wastewater as a result. Some bacteria may break the waste calcium sulfate down, resulting in the release of hydrogen sulfide.

Volcanic Vents

In volcanically active areas, thermal vents may release hydrogen sulfide gas. If wastewater comes into contact with these vents, H2S contamination can occur.

Reducing Hydrogen Sulfide Levels in Wastewater

One of the most fundamental wastewater facts is that bad smells need to be dealt with in an efficient and effective way. This is why some facility managers and treatment site teams have used odor maskers in the past – hiding the unpleasant odor of hydrogen sulfide gas. Unfortunately, this does not get rid of the problem and will only hide the issue. Instead, your facility team needs to adopt more effective treatment measures.

Treating with Microbe Lift

As hydrogen sulfide is a naturally occurring substance, it is difficult to eliminate it altogether. Instead, it is possible to use specific types of wastewater treatment to target hydrogen sulfide and make the water safe.

By adding Microbe Lift to wastewater and to other channels, you can capture the compounds that cause the unpleasant odor of H2S while also reducing the risk of exposure for anyone in and around your site. The corrosive reactions of H2S are also prevented by Microbe Lift, which extends infrastructure lifespan and reduces damage.

The ingredients of the product are natural and do not pose any further threat to the environment. Instead, this treatment becomes a useful and effective way to bring down the level of hydrogen sulfide in wastewater, both in liquid and in gas form, as well as working on other forms of contaminant.

Identifying Potential Sources

While Microbe Lift is a useful way to deal with hydrogen sulfide, it is still a good idea to adopt a multi-faceted strategy. Basically, this means treating wastewater while also working to limit the sources of sulfates within the water itself.

We’ve touched upon the use of calcium sulfate in construction. If you have calcium sulfate on your site, develop a plan to dispose of this in a safe and responsible manner, ensuring that it does not end up in wastewater channels. Utilizing drain protectors and other solutions while conducting building or demolition work, for example, is also advisable, as this limits the amount of potentially harmful chemicals that can enter the wastewater.

Discover More About How to Deal with Hydrogen Sulfide in Your Wastewater

It is possible to combat high levels of H2S in your wastewater. You just need the right hydrogen sulfide wastewater treatment. Browse our product range and take a look at our Microbe Lift treatment to discover more about how this is done, or reach out to our team with any questions.