Suphur hexafluoride (SF6)
Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)
Sulphur hexafluoride, SF6, is a colourless, odourless gas that is included in the group F-gases. F-gases have a significant greenhouse gas effect1. In order to compare the effect of different greenhouse gases, emissions are converted into carbon dioxide equivalents2. The average retention time of SF6 in the atmosphere is very long and estimated to 3 200 years3.
Sulphur hexafluoride is a synthetically produced gas which most important application area is as insulation and arc-quenching medium within the electronics industry. The gas is for example used in high-voltage substations4. Sulphur hexafluoride is also used as cover gas for magnesium casting5. SF6 is also used as testing and calibration gas, as synthetic gas and for laboratory use6,7.
Sulphur hexafluoride was previously used as insulation gas in windows and as shock absorbing gas in sports shoes.
Sources and transportation pathways
Sulphur hexafluoride does not exist naturally in the environment. The most important transportation pathway is by air. Emissions originate from magnesium production industries8.
Effects on environment and health
Sulphur hexafluoride is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to the increased greenhouse gas effect9. The increased greenhouse gas effect results in an increase of the average temperature on earth, which for example leads to climate change and rising of the sea level10,11.
Exposure to high concentration of sulphur hexafluoride may cause suffocation as sulphur hexafluoride displaces the oxygen from the air12. High exposure to sulphur hexafluoride may give rise to dizziness, fatigue, headache, nausea, shortage of breath and reduced consiousness13.
International agreements and regulations
Sulphur hexafluoride is regulated by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), as well as by the EU MMR (525/2013/EU), the EU ETS (2003/87/EU) and the EU F-gas regulation (517/2014/EU). The UN Protocol on PRTRs and the EU E-PRTR regulation regulate how data on sulphur hexafluoride is made available.