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Hydrogen Chloride

General Description

Synonyms: Anhydrous hydrogen chloride; Aqueous hydrogen chloride; Hydrochloric acid, Muriatic acid; HCl

OSHA IMIS code: 1430

CAS number: 7647-01-0

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
5 ppm (7 mg/m3) Ceiling
HE3 -- corrosion, yellowing, and breaking of teeth
HE4 -- skin and eye burns, blindness, frostbite (on contact with liquid)
HE11 -- respiratory irritation, airway obstruction, cough, choking, hoarseness, pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation and ulceration; dermatitis
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
5 ppm (7 mg/m3) Ceiling
HE3 -- corrosion, yellowing, and breaking of teeth
HE4 -- skin and eye burns, blindness, frostbite (on contact with liquid)
HE11 -- respiratory irritation, airway obstruction, cough, choking, hoarseness, pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation and ulceration; dermatitis
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z - Shipyards
5 ppm (7 mg/m3) Ceiling
HE3 -- corrosion, yellowing, and breaking of teeth
HE4 -- skin and eye burns, blindness, frostbite (on contact with liquid)
HE11 -- respiratory irritation, airway obstruction, cough, choking, hoarseness, pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation and ulceration; dermatitis
NIOSH REL 5 ppm (7 mg/m3) Ceiling
HE11 -- respiratory irritation, airway obstruction, cough, choking, hoarseness, pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation and ulceration; dermatitis
ACGIH TLV® (2000) 2 ppm (2.98 mg/m3) Ceiling
A4
HE4 -- acute skin and eye burns, blindness, frostbite (on contact with liquid)
HE11 -- respiratory irritation, airway obstruction, cough, choking, hoarseness, pulmonary edema
HE14 -- marked eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation and ulceration; dermatitis
CAL/OSHA PELs 0.3 ppm (0.45 mg/m3) TWA
2 ppm Ceiling
HE15 -- Hyperplasia of laryngeal and other upper airway tissue

Carcinogenic classification:

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): 2x10-2 mg/m3

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 50 ppm

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Hydrogen chloride has not been found to be combustible (NIOSH/IPCS 2000).
  2. Mixing hydrochloric acid with a sodium hypochlorite solution (bleach) may lead to the production of chlorine gas and severe respiratory effects (Gorguner et al. 2004).
  3. Breathing in hydrochloric acid aerosols, even for healthy individuals, can elicit bronchial spasms and decreased lung function (Micric and Plavec 2004).
  4. Recent reports indicate that inhalation of hydrogen chloride particles may lead to fibrosis of the bronchioles and interstitial tissue in certain cases (Serrano et al. 2006).
  5. IARC classified mists from strong inorganic acids as Group 1, Known to be Carcinogenic to Humans. This assessment included studies in people exposed to mixtures containing hydrochloric acid.
  6. Short term high exposures to irritants may cause reactive airway dysfunction syndrome, a persistent condition resembling asthma but without an immunological trigger. (Brooks 1985)
  7. The EPA reference concentration was based on the observation of Hyperplasia of nasal mucosa, larynx and trachea in a chronic inhalation study in rats. (EPA 1995)

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Hydrogen Chloride. 2016.
  • Albert, R.E., A.R. Sellakumar, S. Laskin, M. Kuschner, N. Nelson and C.A. Snyder. 1982. Gaseous formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride induction of nasal cancer in rats. J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 68(4): 597-603.
  • Brooks, S M; M A Weiss; I L Bernstein, Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome (RADS). Persistent asthma syndrome after high level irritant exposures  CHEST.;88(3):376-384 1985.
  • EPA: Integrated Risk Information System - Hydrochloric Acid. 1985.
  • Gorguner, M., Aslan, S., Inandi, T. and Cakir, Z.: Reactive airways dysfunction syndrome in housewives due to a bleach-hydrochloric acid mixture. Inhal. Toxicol. 16(2): 87-91, 2004.
  • IARC: Monographs on the Evaluation of the Carcinogenic Risk of Chemicals to Humans. Mists from Strong Inorganic Acids. 2011.
  • Micric, M. and Plavec, D.: Risk of acute bronchospasm and bronchial hyperreactivity from inhaled acid aerosol in healthy subjects: randomized, double-blind controlled trial. Croat. Med. J. 45(6): 709-714, 2004.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Hydrogen Chloride. September 1978.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsHydrogen chloride. October 4, 2000.
  • Serrano, M. et al.: Airway-centered interstitial fibrosis related to exposure to fumes from cleaning products. Arch Bronconeumol. 42(10): 557-559, 2006.
  • Sellakumar, A.R., C.A. Snyder, J.J. Solomon and R.E. Albert. 1985. Carcinogenicity for formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride in rats. Toxicol. Appl. Pharmacol. 81: 401-406, 1985

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