Hydrogen cyanide

CAS RN: 74-90-8

Rescuer Protection


Rescuer Protection

Hydrogen cyanide is a highly toxic systemic poison that is absorbed well by inhalation and through the skin. Victims exposed only to hydrogen cyanide gas do not pose secondary contamination risks to rescuers, but do not attempt resuscitation without a barrier. Victims whose clothing or skin is contaminated with hydrogen cyanide liquid or solution can secondarily contaminate response personnel by direct contact or through off-gassing vapor. Avoid dermal contact with cyanide-contaminated victims or with gastric contents of victims who may have ingested cyanide-containing materials.

PPE required level A

Respiratory Protection: Positive-pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is recommended in response situations that involve exposure to potentially unsafe levels of hydrogen cyanide.

Skin Protection: Chemical-protective clothing is recommended because both hydrogen cyanide vapor and liquid can be absorbed through the skin to produce systemic toxicity.

  • Level A - protective clothing is the highest level of protection. Level A includes a Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) with a fully encapsulating vapor tight suit with gloves and booties attached to the suit (tanks last from 1/2 hour to 1 hour).
  • Level B - requires the use of SCBA but has lesser skin protection. Level Bs are chemical resistant suits that are designed for splashes of liquids but not for gas or vapor hazards. A young soldier can last about 2 hours on a hot day with an external air hose.
  • Level C is similar to B with the exception of the type of respiratory protection. The SCBA is replaced with an Air Purifying Respirator.
  • Level D protective clothing is utilized when there are no respiratory hazard and no major skin hazard considerations. Level D for hospital personnel includes scrubs, safety glasses, shoe covers, and possibly a face shield.
  • Link to Reference Section for Acute Event PPE-related Safety Information
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