Is sulfur dioxide safe to eat?
Sulfur dioxide might not sound good enough to eat, but this food preservative does make its way into a number of edibles, including dried fruits such as raisins, dried apricots and prunes. Sulfur dioxide is one type of sulfite, a preservative whose name might be more familiar.
What are the potential health effects of sulfur dioxide?
- Inhalation: VERY TOXIC, can cause death.
- Skin Contact: CORROSIVE.
- Eye Contact: CORROSIVE.
- Ingestion: Not a relevant route of exposure (gas).
- Effects of Long-Term (Chronic) Exposure: May harm the respiratory system.
- Carcinogenicity: Not known to cause cancer.
- Inhaling sulfur dioxide causes irritation to the nose, eyes, throat, and lungs. Typical symptoms include sore throat, runny nose, burning eyes, and cough. Inhaling high levels can cause swollen lungs and difficulty breathing. Skin contact with sulfur dioxide vapor can cause irritation or burns.
- The one available animal study suggests that sulfur dioxide may be a carcinogen in mice. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified sulfur dioxide as Group 3, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity.
- Why is Sulphur Dioxide used? It is sometimes used as a preservative for dried apricots and other dried fruits owing to its antimicrobial properties, (it is sometimes called E220 when used in this way.) As a preservative, it maintains the appearance of the fruit and prevents rotting.
Answer. Sulfur dioxide is used as a preservative, especially in dried fruits, but also in grapes (both fresh and in winemaking). Sulfur dioxide is considered to be safe; however, some people are sensitive to it, and it may even cause asthma symptoms in those who are predisposed.
- Adding sulphur to wine. Sulphur dioxide (SO2) is the most widely used and controversial additive in winemaking. Its main functions are to inhibit or kill unwanted yeasts and bacteria, and to protect wine from oxidation.
- Sulphites work by releasing sulphur dioxide, a gas, which can cause the airway to become irritated and constricted. Less than 2% of the general population are believed to be allergic to sulphites, but in asthmatics it is much higher at between 5 and 13%.
- Sulphur dioxide in foods and beverages: its use as a preservative and its effect on asthma. Sulphur dioxide is widely used in the food and drinks industries for its properties as a preservative and antioxidant. These are predominantly dried fruits and vegetables, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
Environmental effects. When sulfur dioxide combines with water and air, it forms sulfuric acid, which is the main component of acid rain. Acid rain can: cause deforestation.
- It is produced from the burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) and the smelting of mineral ores (aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, and iron) that contain sulfur. Sulfur dioxide dissolves easily in water to form sulfuric acid. Sulfuric acid is a major component of acid rain.
- Exposure to such particles can affect both your lungs and your heart. Numerous scientific studies have linked particle pollution exposure to a variety of problems, including: decreased lung function. increased respiratory symptoms, such as irritation of the airways, coughing or difficulty breathing.
- SO2 is formed when fuel-containing sulfur is burned and when gasoline is extracted from oil, or when metals are extracted from ore. Once it is released into the atmosphere, SO2 dissolves in water vapor to form acid (acid rain). The majority of SO2 released into the atmosphere comes from coal burning power plants.
Updated: 16th October 2019