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Sodium Hydroxide

General Description

Synonyms:  Caustic soda; Sodium hydrate; Soda; Lye; Soda lye

OSHA IMIS code: 2260

CAS number(s): 1310-73-2

Exposure Limits and Health Effects (Updated September 6, 2012)

Standard Set By Exposure Limit Health Effect Codes -- Health Effects and Target Organs
OSHA PEL - General Industry
See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
2 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages
HE14 -- eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
2 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages
HE14 -- eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z - Shipyards
2 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages
HE14 -- eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
NIOSH REL 2 mg/m3 Ceiling HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages; severe eye and skin injury
HE11 -- pneumonitis
HE14 -- severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
ACGIH TLV® (1992) 2 mg/m3 Ceiling HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages; severe eye and skin injury
HE14 -- severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritation
CAL/OSHA PELs 2 mg/m3 Ceiling
HE4 -- ulceration of nasal passages; severe eye and skin injury
HE14 -- severe eye, skin, and respiratory irritation

Carcinogenic classification:

  • NTP: Not listed
  • IARC: Not listed
  • EPA: Not listed

EPA Inhalation Reference Concentration (RfC): Not established

ATSDR Inhalation Minimal Risk Levels (MRLs): Not established

NIOSH IDLH concentration: 10 mg/m3

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. When used as a solution in water, sodium hydroxide is a strong base and will react violently with acids (NIOSH/IPCS 2010).
  2. Sodium hydroxide is corrosive to metals and can react with them to form explosive hydrogen gas (NIOSH/IPCS 2010).
  3. Sodium hydroxide reacts with ammonium salts to form ammonia, which is a fire hazard (NIOSH/IPCS 2010).
  4. While sodium hydroxide has not been found to be carcinogenic in and of itself, an increased number of esophageal cancer cases have been documented as a result of a scarred esophagus after swallowing sodium hydroxide (NIOSH 1978).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Sodium Hydroxide. 2016.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Sodium Hydroxide. 1978.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsSodium Hydroxide. 2010.

Chemical Sampling Information

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