Sulphur Can Become a Bad Actor

Sulphur Can Become a Bad Actor

There are no regulations that say that sulphur is a dangerous substance, but one repairman knows that there are many pleasanter places to be than close to a pile of sulphur when ignited.

Sulphur is a harmless yellow powder. But when ignited, it forms a gas with a penetrating, gagging odor. A large amount of sulphur dioxide is shipped commercially in containers to be used as a working fluid for refrigerators or for certain bleaching operations. And when sulphur burns, there can be no question about it. First the substance melts, then it burns freely with a bluish flame. The fact that it melts in contact with heat may result in a transfer of the actual fire from the point of origination to a remote place.

A certain steel gondola full of bulk sulphur was found to be in need of repairs. Riveting was necessary. While doing the job, the repairman plunged a hot rivet into the sulphur, promptly setting fire to the substance. The man was wearing goggles as a protection for his eyes, hut the goggles proved ineffective as a gas mask. For the next few moments, this laborer had anything but a happy time trying to offset the effect of sulphur dioxide on his eyes. He was not injured but he learned enough to respect certain facts. He discovered that it pays to remove all traces of sulphur when it is necessary to work near it, and that a hot rivet or cigarette butt should never come in contact with material. The data is taken from an article in the Bureau of Explosives bulletin.

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