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General Description

  • Synonyms: Carbon Nitride; Ethanedinitrile; Nitriloacetonitrile; Oxalonitrile; Oxalic Acid Dinitrile; Dicyan
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 0800
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 460-19-5
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: GT1925000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 1026 119
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Cyanogen: 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) (2015): 5 ppm (10.6 mg/m3) Ceiling
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 10 ppm (20 mg/m3) TWA

Health Factors

Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, nose, upper respiratory system; lacrimation; cherry red lips, sore throat; shortness of breath, tachypnea, hyperpnea; bradycardia; headache; dizziness; unconsciousness; convulsions; palpitation, weak pulse; loss of appetite, vomiting; weight loss; enlargement of thyroid gland; frostbite (on contact with liquid); asphyxia and death can occur.

Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Skin, Nose, Throat---Marked (HE14); Acute Toxicity (HE4).

Affected Organs: Eyes, respiratory system, CNS, cardiovascular system


  1. Odor may not be detectable in concentrations as high as 250 ppm, but eye and nose irritation occur at 16 (but not 8) ppm.
  2. Hydrolyzes in the body to hydrogen cyanide and cyanate, so toxic effects are thought to be comparable to hydrogen cyanide. Neurological sequelae in survivors of acute cyanide poisoning include parkinsonism and dystonia.

Literature Basis:

  • EPA Air Toxics Website: Cyanide Compounds. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Cyanogen.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Cyanogen.
  • Albin, R.L.: Basal ganglia neurotoxins. Neurol. Clin. 18(3): 665-680, 2000.
  • Lewis, T.R., Anger, W.K. and Te Vault, R.K.: Toxicity and evaluation of sub-chronic exposures to cyanogen in monkeys and rats. J. Environ. Pathol. Toxicol. Oncol. 5(4-5):151-163, 1984.
  • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Cyanogen. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 702-704.

Date Last Revised: 02/06/2004

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • Coated XAD-2 Tube (150/75 mg sections, 20/60 mesh); Coating is 10% (w/w) 2-(Hydroxymethyl)piperidine.
  • analytical solvent: Toluene
  • maximum volume: 12 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gas Chromatography; GC/NPD
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2104)
  • method classification: Partially Validated

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