People who suffer respiratory symptoms due to exposure to hydrogen sulfide or sewer gas are treated with supplemental oxygen, aerosolized bronchodilators or nitrite therapy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If they have trouble breathing, children may require bronchodilator treatment with a racemic epinephrine aerosol. The gas is not cancerous and does not accumulate in the body with prolonged exposure, notes the CDC. Treatment for symptoms of exposure aims to support compromised respiratory and cardiovascular functions.
Hydrogen sulfide is the highly toxic component of sewage gas that is responsible for its rotten-egg smell, states the CDC. The symptoms of hydrogen sulfide exposure include headaches, nausea, irregular heartbeat and difficulty breathing.
The most common route of exposure is through inhalation, notes the CDC. Inhalation of high levels of hydrogen sulfide irritates the mucous membranes and respiratory tract. Inhalation symptoms appear immediately or are delayed for up to 72 hours. Individuals who suffer skin or eye exposure are treated for thermal burns or given a warm water bath if frostbite develops.
Sewer gas is composed of both toxic and non-toxic gases, states the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The gases are produced by decomposing organic materials from household and industrial waste.