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General Description

Synonyms: Iron (III) Oxide; Iron oxide red; Red iron oxide; Red oxide; Ferric oxide

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2229

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 1309-37-1

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: NO7400000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Rouge: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more


Exposure Limits

OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
General Industry: 29 CFR 1910.1000 Z-1 Table -- 15 mg/m3

Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards -- 15 mg/m3
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 10 mg/m3 TWA; The value is for particulate matter containing no asbestos and <1% crystalline silica. Appendix A4 - Not Classifiable as a Human Carcinogen

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): Appendix D - Substances With No Established RELs


Health Factors

Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, respiratory system, cough; metal fume fever; siderosis (a benign condition); iron staining of the eyes.

Health Effects: Nuisance particulate-Accumulation in lungs (HE19)

Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system

Notes:
  1. The acute intrapulmonary instillation of small ferric oxide particles in human volunteers induced a transient subclinical inflammation that resolved within 4 days.
  2. The ferric oxide particles are taken up by alveolar macrophages and cleared in two phases, one with a short half-life of 0.5 day and one with a long half-life of 110 days.
  3. The inhalation of respirable iron oxide particles at an average concentration of 12.7 mg/m3 for 30 minutes by human volunteers was reported to not significantly affect alveolar epithelial permeability, lung diffusing capacity, or pulmonary function.
  4. Of six different abrasive blasting agents tested for pulmonary toxicity in rats, specular hematite (98-99% ferric oxide) was the only one lacking evidence of pulmonary toxicity.
  5. Ferric oxide is listed as an indirect food substance affirmed by the FDA as GRAS (generally recognized as safe) when used at levels not to exceed good manufacturing practice (21 CFR 186.1300).
Date Last Revised: 09/27/2005

Literature Basis:
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Rouge.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Ferric Oxide.
  • Hubbs, A., et al.: Comparative pulmonary toxicity of 6 abrasive blasting agents. Toxicol. Sci. 61(1): 135-143, 2001.
  • Lay, J.C., Bennett, W.D., Kim, C.S., Devlin, R.B. and Bromberg, P.A.: Retention and intracellular distribution of instilled iron oxide particles in human alveolar macrophages. Am. J. Respir. Cell Mol. Biol. 18(5): 687-695, 1998.
  • Lay, J.C., Zeman, K.L., Ghio, A.J. and Bennett, W.D.: Effects of inhaled iron oxide particles on alveolar epithelial permeability in normal subjects. Inhal. Toxicol. 13(12): 1065-1078, 2001.
  • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Iron Oxide (Fume). In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 2. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 1315-1317.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

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Page last updated: 04/11/2006