Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a gas. Breathing it in can irritate your nose, throat and lungs.

Sulfur dioxide is a common air pollutant. In Victoria, sulfur dioxide levels are usually low. We measure sulfur dioxide at some of our air monitoring sites.

Health effects of sulfur dioxide

Breathing in sulfur dioxide can impact your health. When levels are high, you can experience symptoms shortly after you breathe it in.

Symptoms include wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. People with lung conditions like asthma are most affected by high levels of sulfur dioxide.

Sources of sulfur dioxide

Sulfur dioxide is produced by burning materials with a high sulfur content produces sulfur dioxide. In Victoria, the most common sources of sulfur dioxide include:

Sulfur dioxide on EPA AirWatch

We show sulfur dioxide data on EPA AirWatch using air quality categories.

Air quality category Sulfur dioxide averaged over 1 hour (parts per billion)
Good   Less than 100
Moderate   100–200
Poor   200–300
Very poor    300–600
Hazardous   More than 600

Current standards for sulfur dioxide

We compare our sulfur dioxide data to national air quality standards. These standards are currently under review.

National standard, in parts per million (and per billion) Averaging time
0.2 ppm (200 ppb) 1 hour
0.08 ppm (80 ppb) 24 hours
0.02 ppm (20 ppb) Annual

Read more about air quality

Carbon monoxide in the air

Nitrogen dioxide in the air

Ozone in the air

PM10 particles in the air

PM2.5 particles in the air

Smog 

Smoke

Air pollution and visibility

Vehicle emissions and air quality

Wood smoke and air quality

Future air quality trends

Protecting air in Victoria 

Reviewed 31 October 2019