A FATALITY CAUSED BY HYDROGEN SULFIDE PRODUCED FROM AN ACCIDENTAL TRANSFER OF SODIUM HYDROGEN SULFIDE INTO A TANK CONTAINING DILUTE SULFURIC ACID

The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) provides toxicological services for selected surface transportation accidents. Postmortem biosamples from a hazardous chemical accident fatality were submitted to CAMI for toxicological evaluation. The victim, a 55-year old truck driver, succumbed from breathing the hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas produced by an accidental transfer of sodium hydrogen sulfide from a tanker truck to a tank containing 4% sulfuric acid and iron (II) sulfate. Autopsy examination of the decedent's body revealed pulmonary edema and passive congestion in lungs, spleen, kidneys, and adrenal glands. Since a potential exposure to H2S was involved, blood was also analyzed for sulfide. Analysis revealed the presence of sulfide in blood at the level of 1.68 ug/mL. This sulfide concentration is approximately 2 times higher than that reported in the blood of 2 separate fatalities associated with accidental exposures to H2S. The blood sulfide value in the present case was about 34 times higher than the blood sulfide concentration (< 0.05 ug/mL) in normal subjects. The observed pulmonary edema and the passive congestion in various organs were also in agreement with the pathological characteristics of H2S poisoning. Since H2S toxicity manifests rapidly by inhibiting the cytochrome oxidase system, causing histotoxic cellular hypoxia, death occurs quickly. Based on the case history, pathological findings, and blood sulfide concentration, it is concluded that the cause of death was H2S poisoning associated with a hazardous material accident in an industrial situation.

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References;
  • Pagination: 7 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00929934
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT/FAA/AM-00/34
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 15 2002 12:00AM