The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced that it is lifting a 16-year-old administrative stay that had exempted industrial facilities from reporting releases of hydrogen sulfide under section 113 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCR A). 76 Fed. Reg. 64,022 (10/17/11). The action means that facilities which produce hydrogen sulfide, including chemical manufacturers, power plants, petroleum refineries, mining operations, and other industries, must comply with a December 1993 rule requiring them to report releases of the substance as a toxic chemical under section 113.

According to EPA, scientific studies since 1993 have demonstrated that hydrogen sulfide can “reasonably be anticipated” to cause serious or irreversible chronic human-health effects at relatively low doses, and, thus, the substance is considered to have moderately high- to high-chronic toxicity. The lifting of the stay took effect October 17, 2011, and the first reports will be due July 1, 2013, for reporting year 2012. EPA issued the reporting stay for hydrogen sulfide because of concerns in the regulated community about EPA’s basis for determining human health effects. EPA continued to evaluate health effects during the stay.