Sulfur Water Control (Rotten Egg Odor in Home Water Supplies)
Iron and Sulfur Removal Systems
Foul-smelling or unusual odors from your water should make you question its quality and safety. Some odors indicate the presence of contaminants which may pose a health risk. Other odors, such as those caused by hydrogen sul- fide, are more of a nuisance, only affecting the taste of the water.
Effects of Sulfur Water
Sulfur in your water supply is easily recognized by its offensive odor. Hydrogen sulfide gas causes the “rotten-egg” or sulfur water smell. Hydrogen sulfide in water causes no known health effects. However, high concentrations do change the taste of the water.
Hydrogen sulfide dissolved in water corrodes metals such as iron, steel, copper and brass. The corrosion of iron and steel from sulfur forms ferrous sulfide or “black water.” Hydrogen sulfide in water can blacken silverware and discolor copper and brass utensils.
Sulfur water makes cleaning clothes very difficult. Using chlorine bleach in sulfur water reduces the cleaning power of detergent. Hydrogen sulfide in water also corrodes exposed metal parts in washing machines.
Iron and manganese, often present with hydrogen sulfide, turn the water black and greasy-feeling. If untreated, the water stains laundry, washing machines, sinks and kitchenware. When used in the laundry, chlorine bleach reacts with iron and manganese forming dark rusty or brownish stains on clothes.
Occurrence & Characteristics
Generally, hydrogen sulfide occurs in concentrations of less than 10 mg/l (milligrams per liter), but occasionally amounts of 50 to 75 mg/l are found. Hydrogen sulfide is more commonly found in ground water supplies than in sur- face water. Hydrogen sulfide gas quickly escapes from surface water.
Wells drilled in shale or sandstone, or near coal or oil fields often have hydrogen sulfide present. Much of the ground water in upstate New York has noticeable hydrogen sulfide levels. High levels of hydrogen sulfide also occur in many locations in the state.