The Dangers of Hydrogen Sulfide and Filtration with Activated Carbon

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a poisonous, highly flammable, colorless gas that is associated with a ‘rotten egg’ odor. As stated by, “hydrogen sulfide is created naturally by decaying organic matter and is released from sewage sludge, liquid manure, and sulfur hot springs.” It also is a by-product from industrial processes such as natural gas processing, petroleum refining and petrochemical plants.2 A filtration apparatus or breathing device should be used at all times when encountering air containing H2S. Possible side effects of inhaling hydrogen sulfide include reduced oxygen intake, central nervous system failure, eye irritation, respiratory system complications, shock, coma, and even death.

Treating the effluent air stream with activated carbon has been found to be one of the best ways to remove hydrogen sulfide. Most standard activated carbons have little capacity for H2S. However, General Carbon carries both impregnated and non-impregnated high H2S capacity carbons. The weight on weight H2S capacities for these products can range from 25-50%. Here is the link to our high capacity GC Sulfursorb Plus.

General Carbon also provides filtration systems and customized odor control vessels for hydrogen sulfide removal. Our ES or FS/FD series systems are designed for large airflows while our “The General” Air Pollution Control Barrel series is designed for lower airflows. These filtration units when used in combination with GC Sulfursorb Plus activated carbon provide the user with a complete solution to his H2S filtration requirements. If you should need a custom system, our Engineering Department will be able to design a filter to meet your unique requirements.

Once the media in any system becomes spent and requires changeout, General Carbon can also provide a complete turnkey service. If you should have any questions on any of our products, system designs or services, please do not hesitate to contact us.


1 – Hydrogen Sulfide Chemical Fact Sheet:

2 – Adsorption of Hydrogen Sulfide onto Activated Carbon Fibers: Effect of Pore Structure and Surface Chemistry by Wenguo Feng, Seokjoon Kwon, Eric Borguet and Radisav Vidic

3 – OSHA Fact Sheet – Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S):