Ammonia

CAS RN: 7664-41-7

Route of Exposure

Lungs

Route of Exposure

  • Inhalation of ammonia may cause nasopharyngeal and tracheal burns, bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Ammonia's odor threshold is sufficiently low to acutely provide adequate warning of its presence (odor threshold = 5 ppm; OSHA PEL = 50 ppm). However, ammonia causes olfactory fatigue or adaptation, making its presence difficult to detect when exposure is prolonged. Anhydrous ammonia is lighter than air and will therefore rise (will not settle in low-lying areas); however, vapors from liquefied gas are initially heavier than air and may spread along the ground.
  • Skin/Eye Contact - the extent of injury produced by exposure to ammonia depends on the duration of the exposure and the concentration of the gas or liquid. Even low airborne concentrations (100 ppm) of ammonia may produce rapid eye and nose irritation. Higher concentrations may cause severe eye injury. Contact with concentrated ammonia solutions, such as some industrial cleaners (25%), may cause serious corrosive injury, including skin burns, permanent eye damage, or blindness. The full extent of damage to the eyes may not be clear until up to 1 week after the injury is sustained. Contact with liquefied ammonia can cause frostbite injury.
  • Ingestion - ingestion of ammonium hydroxide, while uncommon, results in corrosive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach. Ingestion of ammonia does not normally result in systemic poisoning.
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