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A Fatal Work-Related Poisoning by Hydrogen Sulfide: Report on a Case

Lancia, Massimo MD*; Panata, Laura MD*; Tondi, Verdiana PharmD*; Carlini, Luigi MD*; Bacci, Mauro MD*; Rossi, Riccardo MD

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: December 2013 - Volume 34 - Issue 4 - p 315–317
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0000000000000055
Case Reports

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a colorless and potentially deadly gas that may cause rapid loss of consciousness and respiratory depression without warning. Although occupational exposure to H2S and the medical management of H2S-associated toxicity are widely established, it remains a problem in the sour gas industry and in other industrial settings, predominantly in new workers.

In this article, the authors report a fatal case of a factory worker who died after breathing in H2S while undertaking a task that he was not trained to perform. Toxicological assessment supported by autopsy findings and circumstantial data was essential to clarify the cause of death, determined as H2S poisoning.

This case emphasizes the need to develop work safety initiatives, improve on-the-job training, and introduce more consciousness to put on protective equipment for workers; indeed, correct training and education for workers regarding safety in the workplace may help to reduce worker fatalities.

From the *Section of Legal Medicine, University of Perugia, Perugia; and †Institute of Legal Medicine, Catholic University of Sacred Heart, Rome, Italy.

Manuscript received March 7, 2013; accepted August 25, 2013.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Reprints: Massimo Lancia, MD, Section of Legal Medicine, University of Perugia, via del Giochetto, snc, 06126 Perugia, Italy. E-mail:;

© 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.