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Category Press Release
Publish Date 5/10/2019
Author Paul Cochrane
Title California Workers and Residents Learn of Sulphur Dioxide Exposure Risks
Introduction LA Testing offers environmental and industrial hygiene testing services to identify sulfur dioxide and other airborne pollutants to protect workers, residents and to help keep companies in regulatory compliance.

Huntington Beach, CA, May 10th, 2019

Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a common air pollutant found in California and many parts of the world. It is a colorless gas with a pungent and suffocating odor and is one of a group of highly reactive gases known as oxides of sulfur.

Back in 2011, California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) added sulfur dioxide (CAS No. 7446-09-5) to the list of chemicals known to the State to cause reproductive toxicity for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Prop 65). This was done after the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicant Identification Committee (DARTIC) determined that sulfur dioxide was clearly shown, through scientifically valid testing according to generally accepted principles, to cause developmental toxicity, an endpoint of reproductive toxicity.

Much of the sulfur dioxide in the air comes from the burning of coal and oil at electric power plants. Other sources of sulfur dioxide come from industrial facilities that use coal or oil, petroleum refineries, cement manufacturing, metal mining and processing, paper pulp manufacturing and copper smelting. Trains, large ships and some diesel equipment may burn high sulfur fuels which also contributes to sulfur dioxide in the air. Sulfur dioxide has also been used as a food preservative and for food processing; as a disinfectant; for bleaching flour, fruit, grain, wood pulp, wool, textile fibers, wicker, gelatin and glue; and for making other chemicals.

“Sulphur dioxide is also used by wineries as an antioxidant and preservative,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. “Workers in any industry that could be exposed to it need to be aware of exposure risks. The U.S. National Library of Medicine reports that breathing sulfur dioxide can irritate the nose, throat and lungs, and cause coughing and shortness of breath. Short-term exposure to sulfur dioxide can cause stomach pain, menstrual disorders, watery eyes, inhibition of thyroid function, loss of smell, headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, convulsions and dizziness. Short-term exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide in the air can be life-threatening by causing breathing difficulties and obstructing airways, especially for people with lung disease. Long-term exposure to persistent levels of sulfur dioxide can cause chronic bronchitis, emphysema and respiratory illness. It can also aggravate existing heart disease.”

People who live near, or work in, facilities that utilize sulfur dioxide or produce it as a by-product may be at risk of exposure. To identify these types of airborne pollutants, LA Testing offers sampling supplies and testing services. They also carry a line of air monitoring instruments for sulfur dioxide and other airborne pollutants and have sponsored an educational video about potential exposure risks that can be seen at:

To learn more about sulphur dioxide or other industrial hygiene, occupational, environmental or air quality testing services, please visit, email or call (800) 755-1794.

About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash and smoke damage, particulates and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the general public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA LAP LLC., AIHA ELLAP, AIHA EMLAP and AIHA IHLAP, CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro and San Diego.

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