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Pollutant Fact Files

Look up the fact files about these nasty pollutants!

  • Nitrogen dioxide
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Ozone
  • Particulate matter
  • Sulphur dioxide

Sulphur Dioxide (SO2)

Sulphur dioxide

Sulphur Dioxide is a colourless gas so you can't see it but you can smell it and sometimes you can taste it- it smells horrible and it can irritate your eyes and your airway! When a match is lit that is sulphur dioxide that you can smell.

The most common natural source of sulphur dioxide is volcanoes. The most common man-made source is the burning of fossil fuels - that's coal, oil, gas, petrol and diesel, among others.

Many years ago, when many more people burned coal in their homes, sulphur dioxide pollution was a much bigger problem that it is today, especially in the winter. In 1952, in London, around 4,000 people died because of sulphur dioxide and smoke pollution. Today, sulphur dioxide pollution is much lower but it can still cause breathing difficulties, especially for people who suffer from asthma.

Often the effects of sulphur dioxide pollution are made worse if other pollution is high.