Typically, when humans are exposed to sulfur, it is the form of sulfur dioxide. When concentrations of sulfur dioxide exceed 100ppm, it is extremely harmful to humans, as it irritates the tissues of respiratory passage ways. It can cause breathing difficulties, burning of the nose and throat, and obstruction of the airways. However, everyday life causes humans to only come in contact with 0 – 1 ppm sulfur dioxide. However, prolonged exposure to this low level can slowly affect our ability to inhale as deeply.
The irritant effects of breathing in sulfur dioxide range from moderate to severe depending on the level and length of exposure. Most often, it doesn’t have a chance to reach the lungs, and so only irritates the mouth and throat. In the most severe cases, wherein subjects are exposed to the substance in high quantities in closed spaces, sulfur dioxide can cause airway obstruction, hypoxemia, pulmonary edema, and death.
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