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Friday, September 14, 2007

Sulfuric Acid - YES

In the August 24, 2007 post on this blog entitled “Wasting $58,000”, the specter of sulfuric acid being dumped into the waterways as a byproduct of the dewatering process was raised. Specifically, that post stated:

We suppose and induce that the hydrogen sulfide is reacting with organics in the water, as well as metals, and creating sulfuric acid (H2SO4) – ergo the color.

and

Without testing the waterways in and near the discharge areas, the premise that there is sulfuric acid is merely a hypothesis.


The present governance responded during the subsequent council meeting by having a city employee put on a performance regarding hydrogen sulfide and related matters. One of the statements made by said employee was that sulfuric acid can not be derived from hydrogen sulfide without a heat source.

This blog was contacted privately by a proponent of the present governance and STRP who politely and professionally called our attention to the present governance’s position on sulfuric acid. We then decided to look into this matter further to answer our own question and either agree with the city’s position, or refute same.

A number of chemistry professionals were asked the following question: “Is it possible for sulfuric acid (H2SO4) to be derived from hydrogen sulfide (H2S) without a heat source, other than what would exist normally in ambient conditions”?

All came back with “yes”. One analogous source notes:

“What you are referring is that SO2 is converted to H2SO4 by aerial oxidation and addition of water, when SO2 is released into nature. This is a slow process and the H2SO4 produced is just at the ppm-level of concentrations.”


Concurrently, the matter was researched. We found that there is published research supporting the “yes” answer. In but one EPA paper

“… recent survey information on the sewer lines to illustrate whether damage has occurred from the conversion of hydrogen sulfide to sulfuric acid”.


Hence, professionals said yes – that sulfuric acid can be derived from hydrogen sulfide without an unnatural heat source, and further, that there are research findings supporting their conclusions.

With these results, the above noted proponent was re-contacted and informed of these findings in general terms. We informed the proponent that as a professional courtesy we would wait for the present governance to re-evaluate its claim in light of our findings whereby the present governance could issue a “clarification” and thereby avoid having been proved wrong again in public.

A response never came – not even an acknowledgment.

The scientific details, along with the supporting published research are available upon request.

Therefore, claims that heat is essential for the creation of sulphuric acid is incorrect. The conditions and elements needed for the formation of sulphuric acid can and do exist naturally in our environment.

We do not know if in fact sulphuric acid is being pumped into the waterways. Neither does the present governance. The science and evidence exists proving that it is all quite possible that sulphuric acid is being dumped onto the swales, front yards, streets and into the waterways under normally existing conditions.

For anyone to dismiss the possibility that sulfuric acid can exist in the effluent dumping, in light of demonstrable science, shows an irresponsibility to our health and that of the environment.

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