Also known as: SO2, sulfurous anhydride, sulfuroxide, sulfurous oxide, sulfurous acid anhydride
Chemical reference number (CAS): 7446-09-5

What are sulfates?

Sulfates are mineral salts containing sulfur. Sulfate salts are found in some Wisconsin soils. The decay of plants and animals and some industrial processes produce these salts. Mines, tanneries, steel mills, pulp mills, and textile plants also release sulfates into the environment.

Understanding the difference between sulfates and sulfites: Sulfites are different sulfur-containing chemicals used as food preservatives. Sulfites are not the same as sulfates. Some people, especially people with asthma, are sensitive to sulfites and can experience severe allergic reactions. Since 1987, food containing more than 10 parts per million (ppm) sulfites and drugs containing sulfites must be labeled.

Industrial waste water, household waste water, runoff from a hazardous waste site or naturally decaying material can put sulfates into waterways, rivers, lakes and streams. Wastes that contain sulfates seep through soil and contaminate groundwater.

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Last Revised: March 13, 2017

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