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Cyanide (as CN)

General Description

  • Synonyms: Calcium cyanide; CaCN; Potassium cyanide; KCN; Sodium cyanide; NaCN
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 0790
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Numbers: 57-12-5; 74-90-8; 592-01-8; 151-50-8; 143-33-9
  • Related Chemical: Hydrogen Cyanide

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): Hydrogen Cyanide, 4.7 ppm (5 mg/m3) Ceiling, Skin; Cyanide Salts, 5 mg/m3 Ceiling, Skin
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): Hydrogen Cyanide, 4.7 ppm (5 mg/m3) STEL, Skin; Other Cyanides (as CN) except Hydrogen Cyanide, 4.7 ppm (5 mg/m3) Ceiling (10 Minutes)

Health Factors

  • Carcinogenic Classification:
    • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Group D, not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity
  • NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 25 mg/m3 (as CN)
  • Potential Symptoms: Asphyxia and death can occur, preceded by seizures, coma with abolished deep reflexes and dilated pupils, weakness; paralysis; dizziness; numbness; anxiety; chest tightness; irregular heartbeat; shortness of breath; confusion; headache; sore throat; nausea, vomiting; eye irritation; rash, chemical burns on skin; enlargement of thyroid gland.
  • Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Skin, Nose, Throat---Marked (HE14); Acute Toxicity (HE4).
  • Affected Organs: cardiovascular system, respiratory system, thyroid, eyes, skin, blood
  • Notes:
  1. Neurological sequelae in survivors of acute cyanide poisoning include parkinsonism and dystonia.

Literature Basis:

  • (symptoms) Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR): Toxicological Profile for Cyanide (Update). PHS, U.S. DHHS, Atlanta, GA, 1997.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Potassium cyanide.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Sodium cyanide.
  • U.S. EPA Technology Transfer Network Air Toxics Website: Cyanide Compounds.
  • (target organs, IDLH)
    NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Potassium cyanide (as CN).
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Sodium cyanide as (CN).
  • (neurological sequelae)
    Albin, R.L.: Basal ganglia neurotoxins. Neurol. Clin. 18(3): 665-680, 2000

Date Last Revised: 07/15/2003

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns in series with Midget Fritted Glass Bubbler (MFGB) containing 10 mL 0.1 N NaOH
  • maximum volume: 120 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 1.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Ion Specific Electrode; ISE
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-120)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: Submit as a separate sample. If present, sulfide should be listed as an interference. Particulate cyanide is collected on the filter. HCN, if present, is collected in the Midger Fritted Glass Bubbler. (See HCN) Within 1 hour after the sample has been collected, transfer the filter to a clean screw cap vial containing 10 mL 0.1 N NaOH.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Cyanide 2/a, order no. 67 28791
  • sampling information: 10 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 15 mg/m3
  • detection limit: approximately 1 mg/m3
  • overall uncertainty: 33-49%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
Wipe Sampling Method:

Call the Salt Lake Technical Center.

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