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Zinc Stearate (Respirable Fraction)

General Description

  • Synonyms: Dibasic zinc stearate, Zinc salt of stearic acid, Zinc distearate
  • OSHA IMIS Code Number: Z104
  • Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS) Registry Number: 557-05-1
  • NIOSH Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS) Identification Number: ZH5200000
  • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards, Zinc stearate: chemical description, physical properties, potentially hazardous incompatibilities, and more

Exposure Limits

  • OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
  • American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV) (2017) as stearates (does not include stearates of toxic metals): 10 mg/m3 (inhalable particulate matter) TWA; 3 mg/m3 (respirable particulate matter) TWA; A4
  • National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Recommended Exposure Limit (REL): 5 mg/m3 TWA

Health Factors

  • Potential Symptoms: Irritation of eyes, skin, upper respiratory system; cough
  • Health Effects: Nuisance particulate-accumulation in lungs (HE19)
  • Affected Organs: Eyes, skin, respiratory system
  • Notes:
    1. Finely dispersed particles of zinc stearate in air may be explosive.
    2. Zinc stearate is listed by the FDA as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) nutrient when used in accordance with good manufacturing practice (21 CFR 182.8994).
    3. Studies of a single intratracheal administration of zinc stearate (1-10 mg) in rats reported no histological evidence of fibrosis or severe pneumonia nine months later, although there was evidence of zinc retention in the lungs in a dose-related manner at nine months after the exposure.
    4. In another study, 50 mg of zinc stearate administered intratracheally caused pulmonary edema and death in 50% of the rats, whereas a 10-mg dose was "tolerated."
    5. Among 27 employees in a rubber factory who were diagnosed with irritant contact dermatitis, only one case was attributed to zinc stearate exposure.
  • Literature Basis:
    • NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards: Zinc stearate.
    • International Chemical Safety Cards (WHO/IPCS/ILO): Zinc stearate.
    • Kilpikari, I.: Occupational contact dermatitis among rubber workers. Contact Dermatitis 8(6): 359-362, 1982.
    • Shabaline, L.P. and Spiridonova, V.S.: Toxicity and character of the effect of some zinc compounds. J. Hyg. Epidemiol. Microbiol. Immunol. 32(4): 397-405, 1988.
    • Ueda, A., Harada, K., Ueda, T. and Nomura, S.: Experimental study on the pathological changes in lung tissue caused by zinc stearate dust. Ind. Health 22(4): 243-253, 1984.
  • Date Last Revised: 02/02/2007

Monitoring Methods used by OSHA

Primary Laboratory Sampling/Analytical Method (SLC1):
  • tared 37-mm diameter low-ash polyvinyl chloride filter
  • maximum volume: 480 Liters
  • maximum flow rate: 2.0 L/min
  • current analytical method: Gravimetric
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA PV2121)
  • method classification: Partially Validated
  • note: OSHA personnel can obtain tared sampling media from the Salt Lake Technical Center.
  • note: If the net weight of the sample yields a concentration below the standard for the substance, the Salt Lake Technical Center 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.
  • current elemental analysis method: Atomic Absorbtion Spectroscopy; AAS
  • method reference: OSHA Analytical Method (OSHA ID-121)
  • method classification: Fully Validated
  • note: An elemental analysis is performed for total zinc and reported as the compound.

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