<< Back to Chemical Sampling Information

Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
Search (use word(s)/phrase)
Table of Contents
By Name

By CAS Number
Quick Links

General Description

Synonyms: Elemental selenium; Selenium alloy; Selenium sulfide

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2230

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7782-49-2; 7446-34-6 (Selenium sulfide)

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: VS7700000

Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Guide: 2658 152 (powder)

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Selenium: 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 -- 0.2 mg/m3 TWA

Construction Industry: 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A -- 0.2 mg/m3 TWA

Maritime: 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards -- 0.2 mg/m3 TWA

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 0.2 mg/m3 TWA

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 0.2 mg/m3 TWA; This REL does not apply to Selenium hexafluoride

Health Factors

Carcinogenic Classification:

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Group 3, not classifiable as to its carcinogenicity to humans (Selenium and Selenium Compounds)

National Toxicology Program (NTP): Group 2, Reasonably Anticipated to be Human Carcinogen (Selenium Sulfide) [118 KB PDF, 2 pages]

NIOSH Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentration (IDLH): 1 mg/m3 (as Se)

Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, nose, throat; visual disturbance; headache; chills, fever, weakness; cough, nosebleeds; dyspnea, bronchial spasms; bronchitis; pulmonary edema; metallic taste, garlic breath; GI disturbance; dermatitis; eye, skin burns; lowered hemoglobin levels; tachycardia; tremors; INGES CHRON: Discoloration of skin, teeth (yellowish); thickened and brittle nails; nail and hair loss; excessive tooth decay; garlic odor of breath and urine; lack of mental alertness; mood changes (depression, listlessness, irritability).

Health Effects: Irritation-Eye, Nose, Throat, Skin---Moderate (HE15) Cumulative systemic toxicity (HE3)

Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system, liver, kidneys, blood, spleen


  1. Selenium sulfide is an OSHA Select carcinogen.
  2. Selenium is an essential trace element found in the naturally occurring amino acids, selenocysteine and selenomethionine, and is associated with selenoproteins such as glutathione peroxidase and iodothyronine 5-deiodinase. Its recommended daily allowance is 0.055 mg/day.
  3. It has been suggested that the major urinary metabolite of selenium normally is 1ß-methylseleno-N-acetyl-D-galactosamine but during exposure to high toxic levels, trimethylselenonium ion is also found in urine and dimethylselenide is expired in the breath.
  4. An organoselenium compound, ebselen, is under investigation as a potential neuroprotectant drug.

Literature Basis:

  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Selenium.
  • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Selenium.
  • EPA Air Toxics Website: Selenium Compounds. US Environmental Protection Agency Technology Transfer Network.
  • Goldhaber, S.B.: Trace element risk assessment: essentiality vs. toxicity. Regul. Toxicol. Pharmacol. 38(2): 232-242, 2003.
  • Kobayashi, Y., Ogra, Y., Ishiwata, K., Takayama, H., Aimi, N. and Suzuki, K.T.: Selenosugars are key and urinary metabolites for selenium excretion within the required to low-toxic range. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 99(25): 15932-15936, 2002.
  • Parnham, M. and Sies, H.: Ebselen: prospective therapy for cerebral ischaemia. Expert Opin. Investig. Drugs 9(3): 607-619, 2000.
  • Pohanish, R.P. (editor): Selenium. In, Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and Carcinogens, Fourth Ed., Vol. 2. Norwich, NY: Noyes Publications, William Andrew Publishing, 2002, pp. 2016-2018.
  • Vinceti, M., Wei, E.T., Malagoli, C., Bergomi, M. and Vivoli, G.: Adverse health effects of selenium in humans. Rev. Environ. Health 16(4): 233-251, 2001.

Date Last Revised: 08/06/2004

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns
    maximum volume: 960 Liters
    maximum volume: 480 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
    current analytical method: Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy; AAS
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-121)
    method classification: Validated
    note: Submit as a separate sample. If the filter is not overloaded, samples may be collected up to an 8-hour period.

** All Trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Accessibility Assistance: Contact the OSHA Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300 for assistance accessing PDF materials.