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alpha-Alumina (Total Dust)

General Description

  • Synonyms: Alumina; Aluminum oxide; Aluminum oxide (2:3); Aluminum trioxide; Corundum
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 0160
  • IMIS Name History: Aluminum Oxide prior to 9/1/1989
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 1344-28-1
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: BD1200000
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, alpha-Alumina: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 1 mg/m3 TWA; Respirable fraction; see Appendix C, paragraph C; Appendix A4 - Not Classifiable as a Human Carcinogen (Listed under Aluminum metal and Insoluble compounds)
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): Appendix D - Substances With No Established RELs

Health Factors

  • Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, respiratory system; coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Health Effects: Cumulative lung damage (HE10)
  • Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system
  • Notes:
    1. Both nonfibrous particles and short fibers (<5 µm in length) containing aluminum have been identified in the lungs of workers in the aluminum industry diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. In one case, these were identified as alpha (not gamma) aluminum oxide.
    2. Such particles and fibers appear to be biopersistent, as demonstrated in rats instilled intratracheally with "smelter-grade" alumina (containing 15.2% alpha alumina), which was cleared only about 9% from the lungs during a 19-week period following weekly instillation for 20 weeks.
    3. Detailed analysis of particles in the air at aluminum smelters indicated that exposure to aluminum oxide alone does not occur, as the particles also contained significant amounts of cryolite (Na3AlF6). The predominant alumina compound detected was sodium ß-alumina (NaAl11O17).
  • Literature Basis:
    • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: alpha-Alumina.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Aluminum oxide.
    • Gilks, B. and Churg, A.: Aluminum-induced pulmonary fibrosis: do fibers play a role? Am. Rev. Respir. Dis. 136(1): 176-179, 1987.
    • Höflich, B.L.W., et al.: Characterization of individual aerosol particles in workroom air of aluminium smelter potrooms. J. Environ. Monit. 7(5): 419-424, 2005.
    • Musk, A.W., et al.: Respiratory symptoms and lung function in alumina refinery employees. Occup. Environ. Med. 57(40): 279-283, 2000.
    • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Aluminum and Aluminum Oxide. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 453-454.
    • Schlesinger, R.B., Snyder, C.A., Chen, L.C., Gorczynski, J.E. and Ménache, M.: Clearance and translocation of aluminum oxide (alumina) from the lungs. Inhal. Toxicol. 12(10): 927-939, 2000.
    • Voisin, C., et al.: Mineralogical analysis of the respiratory tract in aluminum oxide-exposed workers. Eur. Respir. J. 9(9):1874-1879, 1996.
  • Date Last Revised: 10/14/2005

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
Federal OSHA and OSHA State Plan personnel submitting samples to the OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center Laboratory for alpha-alumina analysis must use the tared gravimetric sampling media described immediately below.
  • tared 37-mm diameter low-ash polyvinyl chloride filter
  • maximum volume: 960 Liters
  • minimum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gravimetric
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2121)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel can obtain tared sampling media from the Salt Lake Technical Center.
  • note: If the net weight of the sample yields a concentration below the standard for the substance, the Salt Lake Technical Center will perform no further work on that sample. If the net weight corresponds to an amount greater than the standard, the sample may be analyzed for the appropriate element and the result reported as the substance.
  • note: Refer to Chemical Sampling Information for "Aluminum (as Al) Metal (Total Dust) or Aluminum (as Al) Metal (Respirable Fraction)" when sampling workplaces that have aluminum metal exposures (grinding, etc.).
  • current elemental analysis method: Lithium Borate Fusion/AAS or Microwave Digestion/AAS
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-109SG or OSHA ID-198SG)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  •  
  • alternate analytical method: Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma; ICP/AES, ICP/MS
  • note: Submit as a separate sample. When analysis of a compound is requested, an elemental analysis is performed and reported as the compound. The analytical method does not distinguish between dust and fume. The method does not distinguish between aluminum oxide and other aluminum compounds (e.g. aluminum phosphate, aluminum metal, etc.).
Alternative Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 µm
  • maximum volume: 960 Liters
  • minimum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • note: Refer to Chemical Sampling Information for "Aluminum (as Al) Metal (Total Dust) or Aluminum (as Al) Metal (Respirable Fraction)" when sampling workplaces that have aluminum metal exposures (grinding, etc.).
  • current elemental analysis method: Lithium Borate Fusion/AAS or Microwave Digestion/AAS
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-109SG or OSHA ID-198SG)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  •  
  • alternate analytical method: Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma; ICP/AES, ICP/MS
  • note: Submit as a separate sample. When analysis of a compound is requested, an elemental analysis is performed and reported as the compound. The analytical method does not distinguish between dust and fume. The method also does not distinguish between aluminum oxide and other aluminum compounds (e.g. aluminum phosphate, aluminum metal, etc.).

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