US Dept of Labor

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationWe Can Help

Sulfuric Acid

General Description

  • Synonyms: Oil of vitriol; Sulphuric acid
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2310
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 7664-93-9
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: WS5600000
  • Department of Transportation Regulation Number (49 CFR 172.101) and Emergency Response Guidebook: 1830 137; 1831 137 (fuming); 1832 137 (spent)
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Sulfuric Acid: Chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits and Health Effects

Exposure Limit Limit Values HE Code Health Factors and Target Organs
OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) - General Industry See 29 CFR 1910.1000 Table Z-1
  • 1 mg/m3
  • TWA
HE10 Lung changes
HE11 Cough
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
  • 1 mg/m3
  • TWA
HE10 Lung changes
HE11 Cough
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment See  29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z-Shipyards
  • 1 mg/m3
  • TWA
HE10 Lung changes
HE11 Cough
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL)
  • 1 mg/m3
  • TWA
HE3 Dental erosion
HE10 Pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and emphysema
HE11 Pulmonary edema
HE14 Respiratory irritation, cough
American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2004)
  • 0.2 mg/m3 TWA
  • (thoracic particulate mass)
  •  
  • A2 (when contained in strong inorganic acid mists)
HE3 Dental erosion
HE10 Pulmonary fibrosis, bronchiectasis, and emphysema
HE14 Marked eye, nose, throat, bronchial, and skin irritation
CAL/OSHA PELs
  • 0.1 mg/m3 TWA
  •  
  • 3 mg/m3
  • STEL
  Irritation of the upper and lower respiratory tract

National Toxicology Program (NTP) carcinogenic classification: Known to be a human carcinogen (sulfuric acid contained in strong inorganic acid mists) (PDF)

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) carcinogenic classification: Group 1 (PDF) (carcinogenic to humans)

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: 15 mg/m3

Notes on Other Potential Health Effects and Hazards

  1. Dental erosion due to sulfuric acid exposure is generally not detected in the maxillary teeth and is concentrated in the anterior mandibular teeth (Suyama et al. 2010).
  2. One of the 10 occupational fatalities reported to poison control centers in 2005 was due to sulfuric acid ingestion (Lai et al. 2006).
  3. The National Toxicology program concluded that inhalation of mists of strong inorganic acids caused cancer of the larynx and lung. (NTP 2011).

Literature Basis:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the Threshold Limit Values (TLVs) and Biological Exposure Indices (BEIs) - Sulfuric Acid. 2004.
  • IARC Monographs Strong Acid Mists Containing Sulfuric Acid, 100-F, 2011 (PDF).
  • Lai, M.W., et al.: 2005 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poisoning and Exposure Database. Clinical Toxicology. 40: 803-932, 2006.
  • NTP Report on Carcinogens Strong Inorganic Mists Containing Sulfuric Acid (PDF)
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Sulfuric Acid. September 1978.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Sulfuric Acid. February 10, 2000.
  • Suyama, Y., Takaku, S., Okawa, Y, Matsukubo, T.: Dental erosion in workers exposed to sulfuric acid in lead storage battery manufacturing facility. Bull Tokyo Dent Coll. 51(2):77-83, 2010.

Date Last Revised: 11/16/2012

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:
  • Mixed Cellulose Ester Filter (MCEF) 0.8 microns
  • maximum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC
  • method reference: OSHA Manual of Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-113)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: Submit as a separate sample. Within 1 hour after sampling, transfer the filter to a clean screw cap vial. Phosphoric and Sulfuric acid may be submitted on the same filter; otherwise, submit as a separate filter.
  • Treated Silica Gel Tube (Supelco ORBO-53; SKC, 226-10-03 or equivalent)
  • maximum volume: 96 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 0.2 L/min
  • current analytical method: Ion Chromatography; IC
  • method reference: OSHA Manual of Analytical Methods (OSHA ID-165SG)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: Phosphoric, Nitric, and Sulfuric acids may be submitted on the same tube. Make sure that glass fiber filter plug is firmly in contact with silica gel before sampling and before sealing tube for shipment.
On-Site Sampling Techniques/Methods:
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Dräger
  • model/type: Sulphuric Acid 1/a, order no. 67 28781
  • sampling information: 100 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 5 mg/m3
  • detection limit: approx. 1 mg/m3
  • overall uncertainty: 49%
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
  • Detector Tube
  • manufacturer: Gastec
  • model/type: 35
  • sampling information: 10 strokes
  • upper measurement limit: 5 mg/m3
  • detection limit: 0.2 mg/m3
  • overall uncertainty: 16% for 0.5 to 2 mg/m3, 8% for 3 to 5 mg/m3
  • method reference: on-site air secondary (manufacturer)
Wipe Sampling Method:
  • Whatman smear tab
  • analytical solvent: Deionized water

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

Search Chemical Sampling Information

Index

By Name

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

By CAS Number
collage image - OSHA Salt Lake Technical Center

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

All other documents, that are not PDF materials or formatted for the web, are available as Microsoft Office® formats and videos and are noted accordingly. If additional assistance is needed with reading, reviewing or accessing these documents or any figures and illustrations, please also contact OSHA's Directorate of Technical Support and Emergency Management at (202) 693-2300.

**eBooks - EPUB is the most common format for e-Books. If you use a Sony Reader, a Nook, or an iPad you can download the EPUB file format. If you use a Kindle, you can download the MOBI file format.

Back to Top

Thank You for Visiting Our Website

You are exiting the Department of Labor's Web server.

The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.

Close