EPA's new hydrogen sulfide reporting requirements

November 07, 2011

November 7, 2011

Last Friday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the reinstatement of reporting requirements for hydrogen sulfide. This action will be effective for the 2012 TRI reporting year. (The first reports for the 2012 TRI reporting year are due from facilities by July 1, 2013.)

Administrator Lisa P. Jackson feels this effort will provide Americans with helpful information on chemicals they may encounter in their daily lives.  Information about hydrogen sulfide will have to be reported by industry to the EPA, and will be housed and available to the public via the TRI database.*

About hydrogen sulfide   Hydrogen sulfide smells like rotten eggs.  It occurs naturally in crude petroleum, natural gas, volcanic gases, and hot springs. It can also result from the breakdown of organic matter, and is produced by human and animal wastes. 

Hydrogen sulfide can also result from industrial activities such as:

  1. food processing
  2. coke ovens
  3. kraft process paper mills
  4. tanneries
  5. petroleum refineries

(Links in the list to more information, for those who might confuse the term with a brand name.) 

Individuals living near a wastewater treatment plant, a gas and oil drilling operation, a farm with manure storage or livestock confinement facilities, or a landfill may be exposed to higher levels of hydrogen sulfide.

Hydrogen sulfide and EPA  Hydrogen sulfide was added to the TRI list of toxic chemicals in a final rule published on December 1, 1993. However, on August 22, 1994, EPA suspended the TRI reporting requirements for hydrogen sulfide in order to address issues that were raised by members of the regulated community regarding the information used to support the original listing decision. On February 26, 2010, EPA published a Federal Register document that provided the public with the opportunity to comment on EPA’s review of the currently available data on the human health and environmental effects of hydrogen sulfide. After consideration of public comments, EPA has concluded that the reporting requirements for hydrogen sulfide should be reinstated.

*TRI is a public database on the EPA web site that contains information on toxic chemical releases.  The data are reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities.  TRI stands for Toxics Release Inventory Program.