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Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

Sulphur Dioxide is a colourless gas consisting of atoms of sulphur and oxygen. SO2 has an odour of a lit match.

How is it generated?

Sulphur dioxide is generated both naturally and anthropogenically (man-made). Sources include: burning of sulphurous fuels (coal, diesel, coke, etc.), metal smelting, pulp and paper mills, petroleum refineries, food preparation, volcanic eruptions.

What Are The Health Effects?

Provincial Guidelines:

What Can We Do?

  1. Conserve Energy. The best way to reduce the amount of Sulphur Dioxide is to reduce the amount of energy you need, thereby reducing the demand for burning the fuel source. Insulating your home properly, wearing sweaters in the winter, using low energy lighting.
  2. Support alternative fuels. Natural gas burns cleaner and is more efficient in some processes. Solar, wind and hydrogen power are all great examples of alternative fuel that would result in a reduction of SO2 production.
  3. Support ‘Emission Scrubbing’ technology. Scrubbers introduce a ‘basic’ compound, usually Calcium Carbonate (Limestone), or Calcium Oxide (Lime) into an effluent stream. The ‘basic’ materials react with the acidic effluent being produced by the process to neutralize the emission and reduce the potential for formation of acid rain.
  4. Recycle Paper. A source of SO2 is pulp and paper mills, by recycling your paper, you can help save the environment as recycling processes are far less detrimental to the environment. However, reducing and reusing your paper is even more environmentally friendly.

Table of Human Symptoms and Other Effects

Concentration (ppb)Exposure TimeHuman Symptoms and Other Effects
400,000Lung edema; bronchial inflammation
20,000Eye irritaiton; coughing in health adults
15,0001 hourDecreased mucoduar-y activity
10,00010 minBronchospasm
10,0002 hoursVisible foliar injury to vegetation in arid regions
8,000Throat irritation in healthy adults
5,00010 minIncreased airway resistance in healthy adults at rest
1,00010 minIncreased airway resistance in asthmatics at rest and in healthy adults at exercise
1,0005 minVisible injury to sensitive vegetation in humid regions
50010 minIncreased airway resistance in asthmatics at exercise
500Odour threashold
5001 hourVisibile injury to sensitive vegetation in humid regions
5003 hoursUS national secondary ambient air quality standard
2003 hoursVisible injury to sensitive vegetation in humid regions
19024 hoursAggravation of chronic respiratory disease in adults
1721 hourAlberta ambient air quality guideline
14024 hoursUS national primary ambient air quality standard
70annualAggravation of chronic respiratory disease in children
4824 hoursAlberta ambient air quality guideline
30annualUS national primary ambient air quality standard
1130-dayAlberta ambient air quality guideline
8annualAlberta ambient air quality guideline
 
 

 

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