Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas that is usually compressed. While it won’t burn, it could explode in high heat situations. Sulfur dioxide is most often used to manufacture sulfuric acid, although it is sometimes used as a food preservative. It is a key component of winemaking, and is also used as a refrigerant, and is a key chemical used in your refrigerator.
In any form, sulfur dioxide is extremely toxic and corrosive. Contact with the skin can result in serious irritation and burning. If liquefied, sulfur dioxide gas can get cold enough to cause frostbite, which can result in symptoms ranging from numbness and itching to burning and stiffness, or even tissue death and infection in some severe cases. If the gas comes in contact with the eyes it can result in burning, which can result in blindness. And as with the skin, contact with liquefied gas can freeze the eye, causing permanent damage or blindness.
Being one of the most common inhalation irritants, breathing in sulfur dioxide gas can be very toxic to the respiratory tract. At low levels, exposure can cause severe irritation of the nose and throat. But high concentrations of the gas can result in pulmonary edema, which is a potentially life-threatening buildup of fluid in the lungs. It can cause shortness of breath, a heavy cough, and tightness in the chest. One short-term exposure to a high concentration of sulfur dioxide can result in a lifelong condition such as asthma, which can result in increased irritation of the airways by such things as cold air or other chemicals. If this occurs, many things like other chemicals or cold temperatures can easily irritate the airways.
Workers who work around sulfur dioxide should be properly trained in its use. They should also be supplied with proper personal protective equipment, such as safety goggles, a face shield and proper protective clothing that meets OSHA regulations and NIOSH guidelines whenever there is possible contact. If high levels of exposure are possible or likely, make sure NIOSH approved respirators with an appropriate cartridge are readily available. If there is an accidental release, workers should be able to put on a respirator and leave the area of exposure.
If you have been exposed to sulfur dioxide get immediate medical help, because symptoms are sometimes delayed. Exposure at any level can be extremely hazardous to your health and can result in a lifelong need for medical care. While accidents happen, sometimes, accidents are caused by an employer not doing everything possible to protect its workers. Please contact the San Antonio personal injury lawyers of Hill Law Firm, because they are experienced in taking on companies that don’t follow the rules and protect their workers, and they can protect your rights.