Research findings presented at the Icelandic Association of Environmental Scientists conference yesterday show that Iceland emits more hydrogen sulfide than Denmark, Norway, and Sweden put together, Vísir reports. Not enough is currently known about hydrogen sulfide’s effects on human health, but the various researchers presenting at the conference agree that more research needs to be done on this topic, not least on the long term effects of continual exposure to low levels of the gas.
Dr. Michael Bates, an environmental scientist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley, is currently overseeing a study on the health impacts of hydrogen sulfide on a community in Rotorua, New Zealand, who are continually exposed to the gas. Dr. Bates’ research has thus far not revealed any ill-effects following exposure to hydrogen sulfide, but he said that no definitive conclusions could be made about this finding without more extensive research.
Hanne Krage Carlsen, a doctoral student in Public Health at the University of Iceland, has been studying hydrogen sulfide in connection with asthma medication use and emergency hospital admissions in Reykjavík. Her research has shown a connection between hydrogen sulfide emissions and the use of medications to treat respiratory diseases.
María Maack, a doctoral student in ecological economics at the University of Iceland, presented research findings which examine the considerable effects of the gas on building structures and machinery. Her ongoing research aims to assess what this kind of damage actually costs society.
Þorsteinn Jóhannsson of Iceland’s Environmental Agency says that efforts have been made in recent years to reduce hydrogen sulfide emissions in Europe. With over a million tons of hydrogen sulfide emitted into atmosphere each year, acid rain has become a considerable problem. Currently, all of the Nordic countries, with the exception of Iceland, have signed the so-called Gothenburg Directive, which commits to lowering hydrogen sulfide emissions.