Another Kerosene Warning
A letter in your January 1984 issue questioned the use of kerosene heaters near a home computer. You compared the emissions of a kerosene heater to those of a gas stove, and suggested the use of an electrostatic air cleaner as a precaution.
The sulfur content of most kerosene fuels is high enough to create sulfur oxide levels that are technically in violation of EPA clean air regulations. These sulfur oxides can corrode exposed metals and cause problems with electrical contacts. Besides the corrosion of metals, the sulfur oxides can cause health problems.
Since the combustion products of kerosene are gases and not particulates, an electrostatic air cleaner will not help clean the air of sulfur oxides. An activated charcoal filter may help, but this is not a common appliance in most homes. Corrosion problems may not occur with other electronic appliances, such as televisions or radios, because the components are soldered or otherwise permanently fixed inside the appliance.
Those appliances which use exposed electrical contacts, such as game cartridges and computer keyboards, are most prone to corrosion by sulfur oxides. Readers should avoid the use of kerosene heaters in a home with a computer, electric type-writer, or silver tea set.
W. J. Tolonen