Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TICs) Guide


The Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSH Act) requires employers to comply with hazard-specific safety and health standards. In addition, pursuant to Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act, employers must provide their employees with a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Emergency Preparedness Guides do not and cannot enlarge or diminish an employer's obligations under the OSH Act.

Emergency Preparedness Guides are based on presently available information, as well as current occupational safety and health provisions and standards. The procedures and practices discussed in Emergency Preparedness Guides may need to be modified when additional, relevant information becomes available or when OSH Act standards are promulgated or modified.

Because of the potential for terrorist events, many have expressed concern about the possibility of a terrorist attack involving toxic industrial chemicals (TICs), or toxic industrial materials (TIMs). These agents can be highly toxic and are produced in large quantities. The following frequently asked questions will help workers understand what toxic industrial chemicals are and how they may affect their health and safety.

General Information

What are toxic industrial chemicals?

Toxic industrial chemicals are industrial chemicals that are manufactured, stored, transported, and used throughout the world. Toxic industrial chemicals can be in the gas, liquid, or solid state. They can be chemical hazards (e.g., carcinogens, reproductive hazards, corrosives, or agents that affect the lungs or blood) or physical hazards (e.g., flammable, combustible, explosive, or reactive). The following table lists the most common TICs listed by their hazard index.

TICs listed by hazard index

High Medium Low
Ammonia (CAS# 7664-41-7) Acetone cyanohydrin (CAS# 75-86-5) Allyl isothiocyanate (CAS# 57-06-7)
Arsine (CAS# 7784-42-1) Acrolein (CAS# 107-02-8) Arsenic trichloride (CAS# 7784-34-1)
Boron trichloride (CAS#10294-34-5) Acrylonitrile (CAS# 107-13-l) Bromine (CAS# 7726-95-6)
Boron trifluoride (CAS#7637-07-2) Allyl alcohol (CAS# 107-18-6) Bromine chloride (CAS# 13863-41-7)
Carbon disulfide (CAS# 75-15-0) Allylamine (CAS# 107-11-9) Bromine pentafluoride (CAS# 7789-30-2)
Chlorine (CAS# 7782-50-5) Allyl chlorocarbonate (CAS# 2937-50-0) Bromine trifluoride (CAS# 7787-71-5)
Diborane (CAS# 19287-45-7) Boron tribromide (CAS# 10294-33-4) Carbonyl fluoride (CAS# 353-50-4)
Ethylene oxide (CAS# 75-21-8) Carbon monoxide (CAS# 630-08-0) Chlorine pentafluoride (CAS# 13637-63-3)
Fluorine (CAS# 7782-41-4) Carbonyl sulfide (CAS# 463-58-1) Chlorine trifluoride (CAS# 7790-91-2)
Formaldehyde (CAS# 50-00-0) Chloroacetone (CAS# 78-95-5) Chloroacetaldehyde (CAS# 107-20-0)
Hydrogen bromide (CAS# 10035-10-6) Chloroacetonitrile (CAS# 7790-94-5) Chloroacetyl chloride (CAS# 79-04-9)
Hydrogen chloride (CAS# 7647-01-0) Chlorosulfonic acid (CAS# 7790-94-5) Crotonaldehyde (CAS# 123-73-9)
Hydrogen cyanide (CAS#74-90-8) Diketene (CAS# 674-82-8) Cyanogen chloride (CAS# 506-77-4)
Hydrogen fluoride (CAS# 7664-39-3) 1,2-Dimethylhydrazine (CAS# 540-73-8) Dimethyl sulfate (CAS# 77-78-1)
Hydrogen sulfide (CAS# 7783-0604) Ethylene dibromide (CAS# 106-93-4) Diphenylmethane-4.4'-diisocyanate (CAS# 101-68-8)
Nitric acid, fuming (CAS# 7697-37-2) Hydrogen selenide (CAS# 7783-07-5) Ethyl chlroroformate (CAS# 541-41-3)
Phosgene (CAS# 75-44-5) Methanesulfonyl chloride (CAS# 124-63-0) Ethyl chlorothioformate (CAS# 2941-64-2)
Phosphorus trichloride (CAS# 7719-12-2) Methyl bromide (CAS# 74-83-9) Ethyl phosphonothioic dichloride (CAS# 993-43-1)
Sulfur dioxide (CAS# 7446-09-5) Methyl chloroformate (CAS# 79-22-1) Ethyl phosphonic dichloride (CAS# 1066-50-8)
Sulfuric acid (CAS# 7664-93-9) Methyl chlorosilane (CAS# 993-00-0) Ethyleneimine (CAS# 151-56-4)
Tungsten hexafluoride (CAS# 7783-82-6) Methyl hydrazine (CAS# 60-34-4) Hexachlorocyclopentadiene (CAS# 77-47-4)
  Methyl isocyanate (CAS# 624-83-9) Hydrogen iodide (CAS# 10034-85-2)
  Methyl mercaptan (CAS# 74-93-1) Iron pentacarbonyl (CAS# 13463-40-6)
  Nitrogen dioxide (CAS# 10102-44-0) Isobutyl chloroformate (CAS# 543-27-1)
  Phosphine (CAS# 7803-51-2) Isopropyl chloroformate (CAS# 108-23-6)
  Phosphorus oxychloride (CAS# 10025-87-3) Isopropyl isocyanate (CAS# 1795-48-8)
  Phosphorus pentafluoride (CAS# 7647-19-0) n-Butyl chloroformate (CAS# 592-34-7)
  Selenium hexafluoride (CAS# 7783-79-1) n-Butyl isocyanate (CAS# 111-36-4)
  Silicon tetrafluoride (CAS# 7783-61-1) Nitric oxide (CAS# 10102-43-9)
  Stibine (CAS# 7803-52-3) n-Propyl chloroformate (CAS# 109-61-5)
  Sulfur trioxide (CAS# 7446-11-9) Parathion (CAS#: 56-38-2)
  Sulfuryl chloride (CAS# 7791-25-5) Perchloromethyl mercaptan (CAS# 594-42-3)
  Sulfuryl fluoride (CAS# 2699-79-8) sec-Butyl chloroformate (CAS# 17462-58-7)
  Tellurium hexafluoride (CAS# 7783-80-4) tert-Butyl isocyanate (CAS# 1609-86-5)
  n-Octyl mercaptan (CAS# 111-88-6) Tetraethyl lead (CAS# 78-00-2)
  Titanium tetrachloride (CAS# 7550-45-0) Tetraethyl pyroposphate (CAS# 107-49-3)
  Tricholoroacetyl chloride (CAS# 76-02-8) Tetramethyl lead (CAS# 75-74-1)
  Trifluoroacetyl chloride (CAS# 354-32-5) Toluene 2.4-diisocyanate (CAS# 584-84-9)
    Toluene 2.6-diisocyanate (CAS# 91-08-7)

Source: Guide for the Selection of Chemical and Biological Decontamination Equipment for Emergency First Responders. National Institute of Justice Guide 103-00 (Volume I), (October 2001). This guide for emergency first responders provides information about the selection and use of chemical and/or biological decontamination equipment for various applications.

Why are we concerned about toxic industrial chemicals as a terrorist's weapon?

There are large quantities of toxic industrial chemicals manufactured, stored, transported, and used throughout the United States which, if obtained by terrorists or caused to be released, may have extremely serious effects on exposed individuals.

How long would aerosolized toxic industrial chemicals persist in the environment?

The time that these agents persist in the environment is dependent on many variables such as physical state (solid, liquid, or gas), weather conditions (wind speed, rain or snow, air or surface temperature), indoor or outdoor release, chemical stability, method of release (vapor or aerosol), or quantity released.

Health Effects

How do toxic industrial chemicals affect people?

Many toxic industrial chemicals are highly toxic and may rapidly affect exposed individuals. Toxic industrial chemicals (whether as a gas, aerosol, or liquid) enter the body through inhalation, through the skin, or through digestion. The time that it takes for a toxic industrial chemical to begin working is dependent mainly on the route that the agent enters the body. Generally poisoning occurs more quickly if a chemical enters through the lungs (because of the ability of the agent to rapidly diffuse throughout the body). Information related to how the chemicals affect humans and symptoms of exposure to specific chemicals can be found in material safety data sheets (MSDS) or chemical information cards.

For additional information, see

Personal Protection and Sanitation

How do I protect myself from toxic industrial chemicals?

If you are exposed to a toxic industrial chemicals attack, get away from the impacted area quickly without passing through the contaminated area, if possible. OSHA has developed an Evacuation Planning Matrix to provide employers with planning considerations and on-line resources that may help employers reduce their vulnerability to a terrorist act or the impact of a terrorist release. Terrorist incidents are not emergencies that OSHA expects an employer to reasonably anticipate. However, if a terrorist release does occur in or near your workplace, an effective evacuation plan increases the likelihood that your employees will reach shelter safely. It may be necessary to "shelter-in-place" if you can't get out of a building or if the nearest place with clean air is indoors.

If available, a good way to protect yourself from a toxic industrial chemicals is to wear suitable chemical protective clothing and respiratory protection. However, it must be stressed that this protective equipment does not always work against toxic industrial chemicals. The effectiveness is determined by the materials of construction, the type and level of exposure, and duration of exposure. If you have been exposed to a toxic industrial chemical, consult with your physician as soon as possible. Personal decontamination can be performed by removing contaminated clothing and washing exposed skin with soap and water.

What does it mean to "shelter-in-place"?

"Shelter-in-place" means to go indoors, close up the building, and wait for the danger to pass. If you are advised to shelter in place, close all doors and windows; turn off fans, air conditioners, and forced-air heating units that bring in fresh air from the outside; only re-circulate air that is already in the building; move to an inner room or basement; and keep your radio turned to the emergency response network or local news to find out what else you need to do.

Has the federal government made recommendations to protect human health?

OSHA has set occupational exposure levels for workplace exposure of employees to many toxic industrial chemicals. In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is recommending Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) that describe the dangers to humans resulting from short-term exposure to airborne chemicals. Other organizations with recommendations for occupational exposure are the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), and the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA).

For the OSHA standards, see

First Responders

How should first responders prepare for a release of toxic industrial chemicals?

First responders should consider the possible impact of a release of toxic industrial chemicals and address these in their health and safety plans (HASPs). The safety and health plan should include guidelines such as monitoring, detection, awareness training, personal protective equipment, decontamination, and medical surveillance of acutely exposed workers.

What equipment can first responders use to detect the presence of a toxic industrial chemical?

There are a wide variety of direct reading instruments and analytical sampling and analysis procedures available for detecting toxic industrial chemicals. Direct reading instruments include detector tubes, flame ionization detector (FID), photoionization detector (PID), and specialized gas chromatographs.

For additional information, see

What personal protective equipment (PPE) should first responders use?

During a chemical release, or after a release has occurred with no information available about the the duration of the release or the airborne concentration of toxic industrial chemicals, at a minimum, level B protection should be used. The requirement of OSHA's Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standard (29 CFR 1910.120(q)) provides additional information for responding to hazardous substance releases including toxic industrial chemicals.

For additional information, see

Healthcare Workers

How should healthcare workers prepare to respond to a toxic industrial chemicals release?

Healthcare facilities should have a health and safety plan in place that addresses the possibility of receiving patients exposed to blister agents from a terrorism event. The document "OSHA Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims" contains practical information for developing an emergency management plan and includes victim decontamination, personal protective equipment, and employee training.

How do I decontaminate a patient?

Healthcare professionals should don appropriate gloves and respiratory protection and then remove contaminated clothing from victim and thoroughly wash exposed area with soap and water. Healthcare professionals should also wash hands after removing any protective gloves and any other potentially exposed body surfaces.

For additional information, see