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Ammonia

General Description

Synonyms: Anhydrous ammonia

OSHA IMIS code: 0170

CAS number: 7664-41-7

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • sulfuric acid impregnated carbon bead (Supelco ORB0-77 tube or equivalent)
  • recommended maximum volume: 24 L (TWA)
  • recommended maximum flow rate: 0.1 L/min (TWA)
  • recommended maximum volume: 7.5 L (STEL)
  • recommended maximum flow rate: 0.5 L/min (STEL)
  • current analytical method: ion chromatography; IC/Conductivity
  • method reference: OSHA ID-188 (fully validated)
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • model/type: 3La
  • 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
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)
  • model/type: 8014-105SC
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 260 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (SEI Certified)
  • model/type: Ammonia 5/a, order no. CH 20501
  • sampling information: 10 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 70 ppm
  • detection limit: approximately 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 25%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
50 ppm (35 mg/m3) TWA
HE4 -- temporary blindness
HE11 -- pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
50 ppm (35 mg/m3) TWA HE4 -- temporary blindness
HE11 -- pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
50 ppm (35 mg/m3) TWA HE4 -- temporary blindness
HE11 -- pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
NIOSH REL 25 ppm (18 mg/m3) TWA
35 ppm (27 mg/m3) STEL
HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
ACGIH TLV® (1970)

25 ppm (17 mg/m3) TWA
35 ppm (27 mg/m3) STEL

HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
CAL/OSHA PELs 25 ppm (17 mg/m3) TWA
35 ppm (27 mg/m3) STEL
HE14 -- marked eye, skin, and respiratory irritation

Carcinogenic classification:

  • NTP: Not listed
  • IARC: Not listed
  • EPA: Not listed

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 1x10-1 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): 1.7 ppm (acute); 0.1 ppm (chronic)

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 300 ppm

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Although ammonia does not meet DOT's definition of a flammable gas, it should be treated as one for precautionary reasons (NIOSH [n.d.]).
  2. Exposure to elevated levels of ammonia can also cause hoarseness, violent coughing, painful breathing, impaired vision/blindness, dyspnea, and cyanosis (NIOSH 1992).
  3. 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).
  4. 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).
  5. There have been several reports of occupational asthma after exposure to ammonia-containing aerosols (ATSDR 2004).
  6. 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).
  7. 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).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Ammonia. 2016.
  • ATSDR: Toxicological Profile for Ammonia. 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 HazardsAmmonia.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Ammonia. 1992.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsAmmonia. 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.

Chemical Sampling Information

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