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Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) -
NAAQS Implementation

Information provided for informational purposes onlyNote: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2), a colorless, reactive gas, is produced during the burning of sulfur-containing fuels such as coal and oil, during metal smelting, and by other industrial processes. It belongs to a family of gases called sulfur oxides (SOs). Major sources include power plants, industrial boilers, petroleum refineries, smelters, iron and steel mills. Generally, the highest concentrations of sulfur dioxide are found near large fuel combustion sources.

Acid deposition or "acid rain" occurs when SO2 and oxides of nitrogen (NOx) react with water, oxygen, and oxidants to form acidic compounds. It is deposited in dry form (gas, articles) or wet form (rain, snow, fog), and can be carried by wind hundreds of miles across state and national borders. Acid rain harms lakes and streams, damages trees, crops, historic buildings, and monuments. The estimated nationwide emissions of SO2 in 1999 were 18.9 million short tons.


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