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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: Aqua fortis; Spirit of niter; White fuming nitric acid (WFNA); Red fuming nitric acid (RFNA); Hydrogen nitrate

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 1860

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7697-37-2

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: QU5775000

Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and 2012 Emergency Response Guidebook [4 MB PDF, 392 pages]: 2031 157 (other than red fuming); 2032 157 (fuming and red fuming)

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Nitric Acid: Physical description, chemical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit

Limit Values

HE Codes

Health Factors and Target Organs

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1

2 ppm
(5 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Teeth erosion
HE10 Chronic bronchitis, chemical pneumonitis
HE14 Eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritation

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

2 ppm
(5 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Teeth erosion

HE10 Chronic bronchitis, chemical pneumonitis
HE14 Eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritation

OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards

2 ppm
(5 mg/m3) TWA

HE3

Teeth erosion

HE10 Chronic bronchitis, chemical pneumonitis
HE14 Eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritation

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)

2 ppm
(5 mg/m3) TWA

4 ppm
(10 mg/m3) STEL

HE3

Dental erosion

HE4 Mouth and throat burns
HE10 Pulmonary edema (delayed), pneumonitis, bronchitis
HE14 Eye, skin, and mucous membrane irritation

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2001)

2 ppm
(5.2 mg/m3) TWA

4 ppm
(10 mg/m3) STEL

HE3

Teeth erosion

HE4 Blindness; skin burns, ulcerations, and corrosions; eye burns
HE10 Chronic obstructive lung disease
HE11 Coughing, gagging, chest pain, dyspnea, pulmonary edema
HE14 Ocular, skin, mucous membrane, and respiratory irritation
CAL/OSHA PELs

2 ppm
(5 mg/m3) TWA

4 ppm
(10 mg/m3) STEL

HE3

Teeth erosion

HE4 Blindness; skin burns, ulcerations, and corrosions; eye burns
HE10 Chronic obstructive lung disease
HE11 Coughing, gagging, chest pain, dyspnea, pulmonary edema
HE14 Ocular, skin, mucous membrane, and respiratory irritation

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Not listed

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Inhalation Minimal Risk Level (MRL): Not established

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health (IDLH) concentration: 25 ppm

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Nitric acid is not combustible but enhances combustion of other substances (NIOSH/IPCS 2006).
  2. One death from occupational inhalation of nitric acid was reported to a U.S. poison control center in 2001 (Litovitz et al. 2002).
  3. Another death from occupational inhalation of nitric acid recently occurred when a patient was asymptomatic from exposure to the chemical until more than 50 hours later. He then developed pulmonary edema and acute respiratory distress syndrome before going into fatal circulatory collapse (Murphy et al. 2010).

Date last revised: 09/06/2012

Literature Basis

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) – Nitric Acid. 2001.
  • Litovitz, T.L. et al.: 2001 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System. Am. J. Emerg. Med. 20(5): 391-452, 2002.
  • Murphy, CM, Akbarnia, H, and Rose, SR: Fatal pulmonary edema after acute occupational exposure to nitric acid. J Emerg Med. 39(1): 39-43, 2010.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Nitric Acid. September 1978.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended Standard - Occupational Exposure to Nitric Acid. March 1976.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Concentrated Nitric Acid. October 10, 2006.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):

  • sampling media: Treated Silica Gel Tube (Supelco, ORBO-53; SKC, 226-10-03 or equivalent)
    maximum volume: 96 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min (TWA)
    maximum volume: 7.5 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 0.5 L/min (STEL)
    current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-165SG)
    method classification: Partially Validated
    note: Phosphoric, Nitric, Sulfuric, and Hydrobromic(HBr) Acids may be submitted on the same sample (TWA only). For STEL samples, submit as a separate sample. Make sure that glass fiber filter plug is firmly in contact with silica gel before sampling and before sealing tube for shipment. Interferences: Particulate acids, salts of an anion.

Secondary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SAM2):

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Dräger
    model/type: Nitric Acid 1/a, order no. 67 28311
    sampling information: 10 or 20 strokes
    upper measurement limit: 50 ppm
    detection limit: approx. 1 ppm
    overall uncertainty: 16%
    method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Gastec
    model/type: 15L
    sampling information: 0.5 or 10 strokes
    upper measurement limit: 40 ppm
    detection limit: 0.05 ppm
    overall uncertainty: 25% for 1 to 5 ppm, 16% for 5 to 20 ppm
    method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Gastec
    model/type: 80
    sampling information: 2 strokes
    upper measurement limit: 200 ppm
    detection limit: 2.5 ppm
    overall uncertainty: unknown
    method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

  • device: Detector Tube
    manufacturer: Matheson-Kitagawa
    model/type: 8014-233S
    sampling information: follow manufacturers instructions
    upper measurement limit: 20 ppm
    detection limit: approx. 1 ppm
    overall uncertainty: unknown
    method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)

Wipe Sampling Method:

  • sampling media for liquid solutions: Whatman smear tab
    analytical solvent: Deionized Water
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