sulfur dioxide

How It’s Used

Sulfur dioxide (aka sulfurous anhydride, sulfurous oxide) is a colorless gas with a choking or suffocating odor. Its use as a fumigant dates back to ancient Greece. Note this passage from The Odyssey, where Odysseus says: “Bring sulfur, old nurse, that cleanses all pollution, and bring me fire, that I may purify the house with sulfur…”

Likewise, most of the sulfur produced worldwide is converted to SO2 as the first step in the production of sulfuric acid. The compound is used as a fungicide, and based on its anti-microbial properties is utilized to disinfect and preserve food and wine. It is employed as a bleaching agent for paper, textiles, oils, and sundry products. There are also applications in water treatment.

Occupational Health/Toxicology

Exposure occurs via inhalation, skin and/or eye contact. Can cause life-threatening accumulation of fluid in the lungs (pulmonary edema). In gas form, burns or irritates the skin. As a liquid can induce frostbite-like symptoms. Eye contact with gas or liquid form is extremely dangerous, causing permanent damage or blindness.

Full record on sulfur dioxide from Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB), a database provided by the US National Library of Medicine.

The sulfur dioxide entry from NIOSH’s Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards.

Monitoring Instrumentation

Check out Interscan’s full line of sulfur dioxide gas detection/gas monitoring instrumentation.