Ammonia Refrigeration

Hazard Recognition

Anhydrous ammonia is widely used as a refrigerant in many industrial facilities, including:

  • Meat, poultry, and fish processing facilities
  • Dairy and ice cream plants
  • Wineries and breweries
  • Fruit juice, vegetable juice, and soft drink processing facilities
  • Cold storage warehouses
  • Other food processing facilities
  • Petrochemical facilities

Ammonia spills and releases pose a significant threat to workers from skin contact, inhalation, and fire and explosion. The key provision of process safety management is process hazard analysis (PHA) - a careful review of what could go wrong and what safeguards must be implemented to prevent releases of hazardous chemicals. The following references help you to begin a PHA by recognizing process hazards.

  • Accident Prevention and Response Manual for Anhydrous Ammonia Refrigeration System Operators. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7. Publication EPA-907-B-1-9001, 4th Ed, (June 2015). This manual summarizes requirements of environmental and safety laws for anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system operators. A list of the federal laws and regulations related to process safety, accident prevention, emergency planning, and release reporting may be found in Appendix C.
  • Process Safety Management. OSHA Safety and Health Topics Page.
  • Ammonia. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), (May 1994). Provides an Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs) document that includes acute toxicity data for ammonia.
  • Toxicological Profile for Ammonia. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (September 2004). Provides exposure risks, exposure limits, and health effects for ammonia.
  • ToxFAQs™ for Ammonia. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (September 2004). Answers the most frequently asked health questions about ammonia.
  • Public Health Statement for Ammonia. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), (September 2004). Provides information on exposure risks, exposure limits, and health effects.
  • Ammonia. New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Hazardous Substance Fact Sheet, (September 2007). Provides a summary source of information of all potential and most severe health hazards that may result from ammonia exposure.

FM Global Data Sheets

  • 7-13, Hazards: Mechanical Refrigeration, (2007, Revised October 2014). Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet. Provides recommendations for fire and explosion protection and prevention for (and protection against contamination from) industrial-type refrigeration equipment.
  • 12-61, Pressure Vessels: Mechanical Refrigeration, (1993, Revised May 2002). Property Loss Prevention Data Sheet. Applies to mechanical (compression type) refrigeration systems found in diverse occupancies as food processing and storage, chemical processes, biomedical applications and office buildings. This data sheet provides loss prevention recommendations, support for those recommendations and inspection guidelines.

International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) Books

  • Introduction to Ammonia Refrigeration - North America Version. Replaces IIAR Bulletin R-1. Contains general industry background, a basic overview of the technology, a general safety discussion and overview of regulatory requirements.
  • Ammonia Refrigeration Training Guideline. Intended to make training more comprehensive and consistent to increase safety, better communication and smoother operations.
  • Ammonia Data Book, 2nd Edition. Provides a variety of information on ammonia and includes a data on the various properties of ammonia and information on its use.
  • Ammonia Refrigeration Management (ARM) Program. Help for small facilities to improve safety, enhance system reliability and to assist with regulatory compliance. ARM is intended to assist facilities with a charge of less than 10,000 lbs. of ammonia that are subject to inspection under the General Duty Clause.
  • Ammonia Refrigeration Library. A technical resource for any industrial refrigeration professional. Contains all current IIAR Bulletins and ANSI/IIAR Standards.
  • Ammonia Refrigeration Piping Handbook. Guide to modern ammonia refrigeration piping as well as a comprehensive introduction to piping design and installation as it is practiced in the field.
Case Studies