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Hydrogen Cyanide

General Description

  • Synonyms: Hydrocyanic acid; Prussic acid; Formonitrile; HCN
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1440
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 74-90-8
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects (RTECS) Identification Number: MW6825000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 1051 117 (>20% solution); 1051 117 (anhydrous); 1613 154 (≤20% solution)
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Hydrogen Cyanide: 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): 4.7 ppm (5 mg/m3) Ceiling; Skin
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 4.7 ppm (5 mg/m3) STEL; Skin

Health Factors

  • Carcinogenic Classification:
  • NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 50 ppm
  • Potential symptoms: Asphyxia and death at high levels, preceded by seizures, coma with abolished deep reflexes and dilated pupils, paralysis; weakness; dizziness; numbness; tremor; loss of visual acuity; headaches; nausea, vomiting; loss of appetite, weight loss; increased rate and depth of respiration, or slow and gasping respiration; eye irritation; rash, chemical burns on skin; enlargement of thyroid gland
  • Health Effects: Acute Systemic Toxicity (HE4); Cumulative systemic toxicity---weight loss (HE3); Irritation-Eyes, Skin---skin
  • Affected Organs: CNS, cardiovascular system, thyroid, eyes, skin
  • Notes:
    1. Fatal concentrations in air that have been reported for various exposure times are 109 ppm for one hour, 182 ppm for 10 minutes, and 364 ppm for 2 minutes.
    2. Neurological sequelae in survivors of acute cyanide poisoning include parkinsonism and dystonia.
    3. Regulated by OSHA under 29 CFR 1910.119 (Process safety management of highly hazardous chemicals).
  • Literature Basis:
  • Date Last Revised: 06/30/2003

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Diffusive Sampler SKC ULTRA II Passive Sampler (SKC cat. no. 590-400) with included soda lime adsorbent in a 4-mL glass screw-cap vial
  • analytical solvent: Water
  • sampling time: 12-240 Minutes
  • current analytical method: Ion Chromatography using Electrochemical Detector
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA 1015)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: The sampler is field loaded with 600 mg of soda lime adsorbent that is included with the sampler in a 4-mL glass screw-cap vial. When sampling is complete, transfer the soda lime back to the glass vial and seal the vial with the screw cap. The device will continue to sample until properly closed. Diffusive sampler accessories used for analysis of samplers must be included with transported samples. Persons using such devices must provide sampling-site station barometric pressure and temperature to the analytical laboratory to improve accuracy of sampling results.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: AUER/MSA
  • model/type: HCN-2, MSA P/N 803945, AUER P/N 5085-824
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 50 ppm
  • detection limit: approx. 2 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 12LL
  • sampling information: 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 7 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.05 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 0.2 to 2 ppm, 8% for 3 to 7 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 12L
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 5 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 120 ppm
  • detection limit: 0.1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 2.5 to 20 ppm, 8% for 20 to 60 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 12M
  • sampling information: 0.5 to 2 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 2400 ppm
  • detection limit: 1 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 50 to 200 ppm, 8% for 200 to 800 ppm
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 12H
  • sampling information: 1 stroke
  • upper measurement limit: 1.6%
  • detection limit: 0.005%
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 0.05 to 0.4%, 8% for 0.4 to 2%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-112SB
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 100 ppm
  • detection limit: approx. 0.5 ppm
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
  • model/type: 8014-112SA
  • sampling information: follow manufacturer's instructions
  • upper measurement limit: 3.0%
  • detection limit: approx. 0.01%
  • overall uncertainty: unknown
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

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