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J Forensic Sci. 2013 Jan;58 Suppl 1:S280-4. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12015. Epub 2012 Nov 5.

Fatal accidental hydrogen sulfide poisoning: a domestic case.

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Service de Médecine Légale, Faculté de Médecine, Université de la Mediterranée, 27 Bd Jean Moulin, 13385, Marseille Cedex 05, France.


Hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) poisonings are classically reported in occupational settings. We describe an unusual domestic case of fatal acute poisoning by H(2)S inhalation. A mother and her infant daughter were found dead in the kitchen of their home. The emergency medical team described a strong smell of rotten eggs, suggesting acute H(2)S poisoning. Autopsies revealed only multiorgan congestion. H(2) S was measured in blood and lung tissue samples by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Body fluids were negative, but H(2) S was found in the lungs of both the mother and the child at concentrations of 1.46 and 1.92 mg/kg, respectively, concentrations described in the literature as potentially lethal. Expert surveys of the premises suggested a complex mechanism involving both defective maintenance of the pipes and drains of the building and faulty assembly of the sink siphon, which led to stagnation of waste water and formation of a pocket of H(2)S.

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