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Sulphur dioxide, SO2, is a colourless gas or liquid with a strong, choking odour.  It is produced from the burning of fossil fuels (coal and oil) and the smelting of mineral ores (aluminium, copper, zinc, lead and iron) that contain sulphur. 
Most of the sulphur dioxide released into the environment comes from electric utilities, especially those that burn coal.  Some other sources of sulphur dioxide include petroleum refineries, cement manufacturing, paper pulp manufacturing and metal smelting and processing facilities.  Locomotives, large ships, and some non-road diesel equipment currently burn high sulphur fuel and release sulphur dioxide into the air.

Sulphur dioxide dissolves easily in water to form sulphuric acid.  Sulphuric acid is a major component of acid rain.  Acid rain can damage forests and crops, change the acidity of soils, and make lakes and streams acidic and unsuitable for fish.  Sulphur dioxide also contributes to the decay of building materials and paints, including monuments and statues.

Most of the sulphur dioxide released into the environment comes from electric utilities, especially those that burn coal.  Some other sources of sulphur dioxide include petroleum refineries, cement manufacturing, paper pulp manufacturing and metal smelting and processing facilities.  Locomotives, large ships, and some non-road diesel equipment currently burn high sulphur fuel and release sulphur dioxide into the air.