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What is the cause of corrosive gasses in the data center and what is the effect?

Time Published March 12, 2012 by Jason Roth

GasQuestion from J.P. / Position: IS Manager / July 6, 2011

Josh Loman of SET3 replies:
There are many environmental factors that can result in corrosive gas contamination infiltrating the data center environment – such as nearby Sulfur contaminated drywall (commonly known as Chinese Drywall), lakes, landfills, highways and generators. Atmospheric corrosive gasses have become a serious problem for electronic equipment and computer manufactures. These acidic gases are especially prevalent in developing countries and industrialized areas where oil refinement, waste treatment, or high concentrations of auto emissions produce high levels of hydrogen sulfide, VOx or SOx gases.

These gases (once introduced into a data center or server room) lead to deterioration of copper surfaces and silver solder used on computer circuit boards thus leading to intermittent and hard failures. Recently the leading computer manufactures have adopted the ISA S71.04 standard and are requiring their customers meet this published guideline for limitations of corrosive gas levels in their data centers. Hydrogen sulfide (H²S) is by far the worst of the corrosive gases. H²S combined with high levels of humidity creates sulfuric acid that quickly causes catastrophic deterioration of copper circuit board surfaces in as little as 3 to 4 months. Elimination of these corrosive gasses is essential in maintaining the reliability of computer equipment and servers in the data center.