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Chemical Sampling Information (CSI)
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General Description

Synonyms: Zincite; Zinc white

OSHA IMIS Code Number: 2610

Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 1314-13-2

NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects (RTECS) Identification Number: ZH4810000

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards - Zinc Oxide: Physical description, chemical 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

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*

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

5 mg/m3
TWA

10 mg/m3
STEL

HE4

Metal fume fever*

HE11

Decreased pulmonary function

American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2003)

2 mg/m3
TWA

HE4

Metal fume fever*

10 mg/m3
STEL

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.

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 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: 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).


Date Last Revised: 9/6/2012

Literature Basis

  • 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 Standard - Occupational Exposure to Zinc Oxide. 1975.
  • NIOSH: Occupational Health Guideline for Zinc Oxide Fume. September 1978.
  • NIOSH/IPCS: International Chemical Safety Cards - Zinc Oxide. April 21, 2004.
Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method:

  • sampling media: Tared Low Ash Polyvinyl Chloride (LAPVC) filter 5 microns
    maximum volume: 960 Liters
    minimum volume: 480 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min (TWA)
    maximum volume: 30 Liters
    maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min (STEL)
    current analytical method: Gravimetric
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2121)
    method classification: Partially Validated
    note: OSHA personnel can obtain tared sampling media from SLTC.
    note: If the net weight of the sample yields a concentration below the standard for the substance, SLTC will perform no further work on that sample. If the net weight corresponds to an amount greater than the standard, the sample may be analyzed for the appropriate element and the result reported as the substance.
    alternate elemental analytical method: Inductively Coupled Argon Plasma; ICP/DCP-AES
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-125G & OSHA ID-206)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: Analytical methods do not distinguish between dust and fume.
    alternate elemental analytical method: Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy; AAS
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-121 & OSHA ID-105)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: Analytical method does not distinguish between dust and fume.

  • alternate analytical method: X-ray diffraction; XRD
    method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-143)
    method classification: Fully Validated
    note: Submit as a separate sample, XRD analysis specific for ZnO. Analytical method does not distinguish between dust and fume

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