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Zinc Oxide Fume

General Description

Synonyms:  Zincite; Zinc white

OSHA IMIS code: 2610

CAS number(s): 1314-13-2

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
5 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- metal fume fever
OSHA PEL - Construction Industry
See 29 CFR 1926.55 Appendix A
5 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- metal fume fever
OSHA PEL - Shipyard Employment
See 29 CFR 1915.1000 Table Z - Shipyards
5 mg/m3 TWA
HE4 -- metal fume fever
NIOSH REL 5 mg/m3 TWA
10 mg/m3 STEL
HE4 -- metal fume fever
ACGIH TLV® (2001) 2 mg/m3 (respirable particulate matter) TWA
10 mg/m3 (respirable particulate matter) STEL
HE4 -- metal fume fever
HE11 -- decreased pulmonary function
CAL/OSHA PELs 5 mg/m3 TWA
10 mg/m3 STEL
 

Metal fume fever is characterized by chills, muscular pain, nausea, and vomiting.

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: 500 mg/m3 

Notes on other potential health effects and hazards:

  1. Zinc oxide fume is a respiratory irritant that causes metal fume fever and can temporarily decrease lung function for up to 48 hours after exposure (ACGIH 2003).
  2. The effects of metal fume fever may be delayed a few hours after initial exposure (NIOSH/IPCS 2004).
  3. The inhalation of zinc oxide at the PEL concentration for two hours by naïve subjects was reported to trigger an inflammatory response involving the release of cytokines, thought to mediate the symptoms of metal fume fever (chills, elevated body temperature, myalgia, cough, fatigue, chest pain, nausea, and vomiting) that peaked about nine hours after exposure. Prior zinc oxide exposure resulted in the development of some tolerance (desensitization) to these inflammatory effects (Fine et al. 2000; Kuschner et al. 1997).
  4. Zinc oxide can react violently with aluminum powder, magnesium powder, and chlorinated rubber to cause fires and/or explosions (NIOSH/IPCS 2004).

Partial reference list:

  • ACGIH: Documentation of the threshold limit values (TLVs) and biological exposure indices (BEIs) - Zinc Oxide. 2003.
  • Fine, J.M. et al.: Characterization of clinical tolerance to inhaled zinc oxide in naïve subjects and sheet metal workers. J. Occup. Environ. Med. 42(11): 1085-1091, 2000.
  • Kuschner, W.G., D'Alessandro, A., Wong, H. and Blanc, P.D.: Early pulmonary cytokine responses to zinc oxide fume inhalation. Environ. Res. 75(1): 7-11, 1997.
  • NIOSH: Criteria for a Recommended StandardOccupational Exposure to Zinc Oxide. 1975.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Zinc Oxide Fume. September 1978.
  • NIOSH/CEC/IPCS: International Chemical Safety CardsZinc Oxide. April 21, 2004.

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