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Synonyms: Formic acid (85-95% in aqueous solution); Hydrogen carboxylic acid; Methanoic acid
OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1310
Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 64-18-6
NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: LQ4900000
Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Guide: 1779 153
NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Formic acid: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1 -- 5 ppm, 9 mg/m3 TWA
Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A -- 5 ppm, 9 mg/m3 TWA
Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards -- 5 ppm, 9 mg/m3 TWA
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 5 ppm, 9.4 mg/m3 TWA; 10 ppm, 19 mg/m3 STEL
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 5 ppm, 9 mg/m3 TWA
NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 30 ppm
Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, throat; skin burns, blisters, dermatitis; lacrimation; rhinorrhea; cough, dyspnea; nausea; eye redness, pain, burns, blurred vision; pulmonary edema; metabolic acidosis; unconsciousness; INGES. ACUTE: Burning sensation, sore throat, abdominal pain, cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
Health Effects: Irritation-Eyes, Nose, Throat, Skin---Marked (HE14); Mutagen (HE2)
Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system
- Formic acid is permitted by the FDA for direct addition to food as a flavoring substance or adjuvant (21 CFR 172.515).
- Formic acid is a metabolite of methanol, formaldehyde and methyl formate, and can build up to toxic levels when the ability of 10-formyl tetrahydrofolate synthetase to metabolize it to carbon dioxide and water is greatly exceeded.
- Occupational exposures that are within exposure limits may be difficult to monitor by measuring formic acid in urine because of its natural occurrence in urine.
- A case of systemic intoxication, including metabolic acidosis, hemolysis, and hemoglobinuria, following a skin burn with undiluted formic acid has been reported.
- NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Formic acid.
- International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Formic acid.
- Barceloux, D.G., et al.: American Academy of Clinical Toxicology practice guidelines on the treatment of methanol poisoning. J. Toxicol. Clin. Toxicol. 40(4): 415-446, 2002.
- Berode, M., Sethre, T., Läubli, T. and Savolainen, H.: Urinary methanol and formic acid as indicators of occupational exposure to methyl formate. Int. Arch. Occup. Environ. Health 73(6): 410-414, 2000.
- d'Alessandro, A., Osterloh, J.D., Chuwers, P., Quinlan, P.J., Kelly, T.J. and Becker, C.E.: Formate in serum and urine after controlled methanol exposure at the threshold limit value. Environ. Health Perspect. 102(2): 178-181, 1994.
- Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Formic Acid. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 1. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 1186-1188.
- Sigurdsson, J., Bjornsson, A. and Gudmundsson, S.T.: Formic acid burn-local and systemic effects. Report of a case. Burns Incl. Therm. Inj. 9(5): 358-361, 1983.
Date Last Revised: 10/19/2006
Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
- sampling media: Charcoal Tube (400/200 mg sections, 20/40 mesh)
analytical solvent: 0.0015 M B4O7-2
maximum volume: 48 Liters
maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC
method reference: OSHA Manual of Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-186SG)
method classification: Partially Validated
note: Samples requesting formic acid must be shipped to the laboratory ASAP and kept cold.
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