Hydrogen Sulfide or Hydrogen Cyanide: Which is More Dangerous?

Chemistry, Health
School kids laugh when malodorous body noises break the silence. “Jimmy just gassed,” little Susie giggles. Such odors are associated with the sulfur that comes from eating eggs, although that is by no means the only source. In fact, the odor that comes from eating eggs is thought by high school students to be due to hydrogen sulfide, H₂S. It is generally thought of as a nuisance, and not as a poison. Another familiar odor is associated with the pit or seed of a peach—bitter almonds. The source of the odor in this case is hydrogen cyanide, HCN. Hydrogen cyanide and its sodium and potassium salts, NaCN and KCN, are often the victim’s cause of death in a television mystery. But… in “real life”… what is the story? Just how…
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