NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 300 ppm
Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards
Although ammonia does not meet DOT's definition of a flammable gas, it should be treated as one for precautionary reasons (NIOSH [n.d.]).
Exposure to elevated levels of ammonia can also cause hoarseness, violent coughing, painful breathing, impaired vision/blindness, dyspnea, and cyanosis (NIOSH 1992).
Dermal exposure to liquid ammonia or to concentrated forms of ammonia can lead to cutaneous burns of varying severity. Severe burns can result in the liquefication of tissue and can penetrate deeply, resulting in the need for skin grafts (ATSDR 2004).
Firefighters who were exposed to ammonia had 1.7 times the rate of decline in lung function than non-exposed firefighters over a period of 6 to 10 years (ATSDR 2004).
There have been several reports of occupational asthma after exposure to ammonia-containing aerosols (ATSDR 2004).
Sensitization to several allergens and decreased lung function were found in residents neighboring a concentrated animal feeding operation, where elevated levels of ammonia were emitted. Mean annual ammonia levels varied between 16 and 24 mg/m3 (Schulze et al. 2011).
An occupational study that investigated production workers exposed to ammonia in a soda ash facility established an adjusted NOAEL (HEC) of 2.3 mg/m3 (Holness et al. 1989).
ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Ammonia. 2001.
ATSDR: Toxicological Profile for Ammonia (PDF). September 2004.
Holness, D.L., J.T. Purdham and J.R. Nethercott: Acute and chronic respiratory effects of occupational exposure to ammonia. Am. Ind. Hyg. Assoc. J. 50: 646-650, 1989.
NIOSH: Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Ammonia.
NIOSH: Occupational Safety and Health Guideline - Ammonia. 1992.
NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Ammonia. March 27, 1998.
Schulze, A et al.: Effects on pulmonary health of neighboring residents of concentrated animal feeding operations: exposure assessed using optimized estimation technique. Arch Environ Occup Health. 66(3): 146-154, 2011.
Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA
Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
Sulfuric Acid impregnated Carbon Bead (Supelco ORB0-77 tube or equivalent)
maximum volume: 24.0 Liters
maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min TWA
maximum volume: 7.5 Liters
maximum flow rate: 0.5 L/min STEL
current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC/Conductivity
method reference: OSHA Manual of Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-188)
method classification: Fully Validated
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
upper measurement limit: 200 ppm
detection limit: 0.5 ppm
overall uncertainty: 16.4% for 5 to 20 ppm, 8.2% for 20 to 100 ppm
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