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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms:

  • Silver metal: Argentum
  • Soluble silver compounds: Vary depending upon the specific compound, such as silver nitrate (AgNO3)

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2240

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7440-22-4 (metal)

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects (RTECS) Identification Number: VW3500000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Silver (metal dust and soluble compounds, as Ag): 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

0.01 mg/m3 TWA

HE3

Argyria*

OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A

0.01 mg/m3 TWA

HE3

Argyria*

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

0.01 mg/m3 TWA

HE3

Argyria*

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

0.01 mg/m3 TWA

HE3

Argyria*

HE4

Eye and skin burns

HE14

Eye and skin irritation

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

Metal dust:
0.1 mg/m3 TWA

Soluble compounds:
0.01 mg/m3 TWA

HE3

Argyria*

CAL/OSHA PELs

Metal:
0.01 mg/m3 TWA

Soluble compounds:
0.01 mg/m3 TWA

 

 

* Argyria is a permanent blue-gray discoloration of the skin, mucous membranes, and/or the eyes as a result of silver exposure.

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Not listed

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

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) carcinogenic classification: Not classifiable as to human carcinogenicity

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: 10 mg/m3 (as Ag)

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. EPA's oral reference dose (RfD) for silver is 0.005 mg/kg/day (EPA 1996).
  2. While metallic silver appears to pose minimal risk to human health, soluble silver compounds may cause liver and kidney damage as well as changes in blood cells (Drake and Hazelwood 2005).
  3. Biological monitoring of different types of occupational exposure to silver by determining silver levels in whole blood found the highest levels in those working in silver reclamation (Armitage et al. 1996).
  4. Silver can be permanently deposited in connective tissue as silver metal, silver sulfide, or selenide to produce a slate-gray appearance (Drake and Hazelwood 2005).
  5. OSHA has had cases (e.g., precious metal refining facility, specialty battery manufacturer) involving worker overexposure to silver (Rosa 2004). Other reported cases have involved silver solderers in Mexico (Sanchez-Huerta et al. 2003) and a silver polisher in England (Kayarkar et al. 2003).
  6. Exposure to very high concentrations of silver may result in diffuse pulmonary fibrosis, visible on chest radiograms (ACGIH 2001).
  7. There is an increasing use of silver nanoparticles in many industries, and there is some evidence that suggests these nanoparticles could be cytotoxic. Exposure to silver nanoparticles may induce oxidative stress (Wasowicz et al. 2011) as well as cause DNA adducts and damage (Foldbjerg et al. 2011).

Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012

Literature Basis

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Silver and Compounds. 2001.
  • Armitage, S.A., White, M.A. and Wilson, H.K.: The determination of silver in whole blood and its application to biological monitoring of occupationally exposed groups. Ann. Occup. Hyg. 40(3): 331-338, 1996.
  • Drake, P.L. and Hazelwood, K.J.: Exposure-related health effects of silver and silver compounds: a review. Ann. Occup. Hyg. June 17, 2005.
  • EPA: IRIS - Silver (CASRN 7440-22-4). December 1, 1996.
  • Foldbjerg, R., Dang, DA., Autrup, H.: Cytotoxicity and genotoxicity of silver nanoparticles in the human lung cancer cell line, A549. Arch Toxicol. 85(7): 743-750, 2011.
  • Kayarkar, R., Parker, A.J. and Geopel, J.R.: The Sheffield nose - an occupational disease? Rhinology 41(2): 125-126, 2003.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Silver. September 10, 1997.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline - Silver Metal and Soluble Silver Compounds. September 1978.
  • Rosa, C.: OSHA compliance issues. Overexposure to silver on a programmed lead inspection. J. Occup. Environ. Hyg. 1(9): D93-95, 2004.
  • Sanchez-Huerta, V., De Wit-Carter, G., Hernandez-Quintela, E. and Naranjo-Tackman, R.: Occupational corneal argyrosis in art silver solderers. Cornea 22(7): 604-611, 2003.
  • Wasowicz, W. et al.: Evaluation of biological effects of nanomaterials. Part I. Cyto- and genotoxicity of nanosilver composites applied in textile technologies. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 24(4): 248-358, 2011.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns
    maximum volume: 960 Liters   
    minimum 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: Fully Validated
    alternate analytical method: Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma; ICP/DCP-AES
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-206)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: If the filter is not overloaded, samples may be collected up to an 8-hour period.

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