A joint study conducted by researchers at University of Otago and University of Wellington, along with three other American universities, found that the distinctive sulfur smell in New Zealand's Rotorua city did not worsen asthma symptoms and instead could be beneficial for asthmatic patients.
Rotorua is also known as the Sulphur City due to the natural hydrogen sulphide emissions caused by sulfur deposits. The researchers were looking to check the impact of the emissions on the health of the population and conducted the study on a group of 1,600 adult Rotorua residents. The researchers measured the amount of exposure to the gas during summer and winter and estimated each person's exposure from where they lived and worked.
The researchers revealed that they did not find any evidence that the gas had any negative impact on the health of the participants and instead said that asthmatic symptoms, especially wheezing, was the lowest among highest exposure group.
"The results, showing no ill effects, are reassuring not only for people in Rotorua, but also for those with asthma who are exposed to lower levels of H2S in industrial or work situations. It seems that it does have some sort of anti-inflammatory possibility, so whether they will ever be exploitable or useful for people that live in Rotorua is hard to say", lead researcher Professor Julian Crane said.