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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: Acetic acid (aqueous); Ethanoic acid; Glacial acetic acid (pure compound); Methanecarboxylic acid [Note: Can be found in concentrations of 5-8% in vinegar.]

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 0020

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 64-19-7

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: AF1225000

Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Guide: 2790 153 (10-80% acid)
2789 132 (>80% acid)

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Acetic Acid: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more.

Exposure Limits

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):

General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table -- 10 ppm, 25 mg/m3 TWA

Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A -- 10 ppm, 25 mg/m3 TWA

Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards -- 10 ppm, 25 mg/m3 TWA

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 10 ppm, 25 mg/m3 TWA; 15 ppm, 37 mg/m3 STEL

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 10 ppm, 25 mg/m3 TWA; 15 ppm, 37 mg/m3 STEL

Health Factors

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 50 ppm

Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin; nose, throat; cough, sore throat, eye, skin burns; blisters, skin sensitization; dental erosion; black skin, hyperkeratosis; conjunctivitis, lacrimation; headache, dizziness; shortness of breath, pharyngeal edema; chronic bronchitis; pulmonary edema (may be delayed); loss of vision; INGES. ACUTE: Abdominal pain, burning sensation, vomiting, diarrhea; hemolysis, hemoglobinuria, kidney failure; shock or collapse

Health Effects: Irritation- Eye, Nose, Throat, Skin---Marked (HE14) Asthma (HE9), Lung damage (HE10, HE11)

Affected organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system, teeth


  1. Vapor/air mixtures of acetic acid may be explosive at temperatures above 39C.
  2. Acetic acid is listed by the FDA as a direct food substance affirmed as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) (21 CFR 184.1005).
  3. Five cases of occupational asthma with chronic rhinitis and sinusitis were reported among employees in a vegetable pickling plant where the mean acetic acid concentration in 10 workroom air samples was 12.2 ppm. Non-smokers (n=74) also had significantly increased incidences of dyspnea, hoarseness, and headache than did smokers (n=29) at this plant.
  4. Acetic acid is one of the VOCs found in both liquid and paste forms of butter flavoring used in microwave popcorn production plants. In one of these plants where severe lung disease was found in 9 former employees, NIOSH found a mean acetic acid concentration of 5.5 ppm (n=8), with a top measurement of 12.4 ppm, in the mixing area and a mean of 2.7 ppm (n=24) in the microwave packaging area.
  5. Protracted airway hyperresponsiveness and symptoms of chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath were described in several hospital employees after acute exposure to vapors from a gallon of glacial acetic acid that was spilled on a floor.
  6. The release of acetic acid during the curing of some silicone sealers is thought to be related to the severity of dental erosion in those who work with silicone.

Date Last Revised: 03/22/2007

Literature Basis:

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards. Acetic Acid.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO). Acetic Acid.
  • Boylstein, R., Piacitelli, C., Grote, A., Kanwal, R., Kullman, G. and Kreiss, K. Diacetyl emissions and airborne dust from butter flavorings used in microwave popcorn production. J. Occup. Environ. Hyg. 3(10): 530-535, 2006.
  • Johansson, A.K., Johansson, A., Stan, V. and Ohlson, C.G. Silicone sealers, acetic acid vapours and dental erosion: a work-related risk? Swed. Dent. J. 29(2): 61-69, 2005.
  • Kanwal, R., et al. NIOSH Health Hazard Evaluation Report, HETA #2000-0401-2991 [4 MB, PDF, 175 pages]. Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation - Jasper, Missouri, January 2006.
  • Kern, D.G.: Outbreak of the reactive airways dysfunction syndrome after a spill of glacial acetic acid. Am. Rev. Respir. Dis. 144(5): 1058-1064, 1991.
  • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Acetic Acid . In, Sittigs Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 30-32.
  • Zuskin, E., Mustajbegovic, J., Schachter, E.N., Pavicic, D. and Budak, A.: A follow-up study of respiratory function in workers exposed to acid aerosols in a food-processing industry. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 70(6): 413-418, 1997.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Charcoal Tube (100/50 mg sections)
    analytical solvent: 0.01 N NaOH
    maximum volume: 48 Liters maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
    current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2119)
    method classification: Partially Validated

On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Gastec
    model/type: 81
    sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
    upper measurement limit: 100 ppm
    detection limit: 0.2 ppm
    overall uncertainty: 10% for 2 to 10 ppm, 5% for 10 to 50 ppm
    method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
    model/type: 8014-216S
    sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
    upper measurement limit: 50 ppm
    detection limit: 1 ppm
    overall uncertainty: unknown
    method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)

Wipe Sampling Method:

  • sampling media: Whatman smear tab
    analytical solvent: Deionized water

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