104. Guide to Chemicals
Chapter Editors: Jean Mager Stellman, DebraOsinsky and Pia Markkanen
Jean Mager Stellman, DebraOsinsky and Pia Markkanen
Halogen and Ethers Tables:
Halogenated Saturated Hydrocarbons Tables:
Halogenated Unsaturated Hydrocarbons Tables:
The Guide to Chemicals is designed to be a quick reference guide to approximately 2,000 chemicals which are of commercial interest. The chemicals have been divided into chemical "families" based on their chemical formulae. This division is somewhat arbitrary in that many chemicals can be classified into more than one family.
The reader who is searching for a particular chemical is advised to consult the chemical substances index in this volume to determine whether a chemical is covered and its location. The chemical substances index will also provide references to other chapters in the Encyclopaedia in which discussion of the chemical may also be found. The reader is referred to the chapters Metals: Chemical properties and toxicity and Minerals and agricultural chemicals for a systematic discussion of those elements and compounds and to the chapter, Using, storing and transporting chemicals for information on safe handling, usage, storage and transport of chemicals.
Each chemical family has a brief discussion of relevant toxicologic, epidemiologic or chemical safety information and four types of tables which summarize chemical, physical, safety and toxicologic data in a consistent format.
Because of page constraints, references for primary literature for the preparation of the textual materials are not provided here. The reader will be able to locate most primary data sources by referring to the Hazardous Substances Database (HSDB), produced by the US National Library of Medicine. In addition to the 3rd edition of this Encyclopaedia and the general scientific literature, the HSE Reviews published by the UK Health and Safety Executive served as a source of information. The Resources: Information and OSH chapter in this Encyclopaedia and the chapters mentioned above provide other general references.
The data on industrial uses of chemicals have been adapted from the 3rd edition of the Encyclopaedia and the HSDB. (For discussions of specific chemical industries, see the chapters Chemical processing, Oil and natural gas, Pharmaceutical industry and Rubber industry.)
This chapter is a collection of materials, some from articles in the 3rd edition of the Encyclopaedia of Occupational Health and Safety, which have been updated and consistently placed in tabular form.
The 4th edition contributors are:
Janet L. Collins Pia Markkanen
Linda S. Forst Debra Osinsky
David L. Hinkamp Beth Donovan Reh
Niels Koehncke Jeanne Mager Stellman
Kari Kurppa Steven D. Stellman
Chemical structure diagrams which are given in the chemical identification tables were created using CS ChemDraw Pro and obtained from the ChemFinder Web Server, courtesty of CambridgeSoft Corporation (www.camsoft.com).
The 3rd edition contributors are:
M. V. Aldyreva M. Lob
Z. Aleksieva L. Magos
D. D. Alexandrov K. E. Malten
G. Armelli M. M. Manson
Z. Bardodej P. Manu
E. Bartalini J. V. Marhold
F. Bertolero D. Matheson
G. W. Boylen, Jr. T. V. Mihajlova
W. E. Broughton A. Munn
E. Browning S. Nomura
G. T. Bryan K. Norpoth
D. D. Bryson E. V. Olmstead
S. Caccuri L. Parmeggiani
B. Calesnick J. D. Paterson
N. Castellino F. L. M Pattison
P. Catilina M. Philbert
A. Cavigneaux J. Piotrowski
W. B. Deichmann J. Rantanen
D. DeRuggiero D. W. Reed
P. Dervillee G. Reggiani
E. Dervillee C. F. Reinhardt
J. Doignon V. E. Rose
H. B. Elkins H. Rossmann
M. Evrard V. K. Rowe
D. Fassett N. I. Sadkovskaja
A. T. Fenlon T. S. Scott
L. D. Fernandez-Conradi G. Smagghe
I. Fleig G. C. Smith
V. Foá J. Sollenberg
A Forni M. J. Stasik
E. Fournier R. D. Stewart
I. D. Gadaskina W. G. Stocker
E. Gaffuri F. W. Sunderman, Jr.
J. C. Gage O. N. Syrovadko
P. J. Gehring J. Teisinger
H. W. Gerarde A. M. Thiess
W. G. Goode A. A. Thomas
A. R. Gregory T. R. Torkelson
P. Hadengue T. Toyama
H. I. Hardy D. C. Trainor
H. Heimann J. F. Treon
E. V. Henson R. Truhaut
A. Iannaccone E. C. Vigliani
M. Ikeda P. L. Viola
M. Inclan Cuesta N. I. Volkova
T. Inoue M. Wassermann
N. G. Ivanov D. Wassermann
W. H. Jones N. K. Weaver
F. Kaloyanova-Simeonova D. Winter
B. D. Karpov C. M. Woodbury
K. Knobloch R. C. Woodcock
H. Kondo S. Yamaguchi
E. J. Largent J. A. Zapp, Jr.
J. Levèque M. R. Zavon
Notes on the Tables
The four types of tables found in each family are:
1. Chemical identification
These tables list chemical names, synonyms, UN codes, CAS-numbers and chemical or structural formulae. An attempt has been made to use the same chemical name for each substance throughout the discussions in this Guide and this Encyclopaedia, to the extent possible. No attempt has been made, however, to use only the nomenclature system of the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC). Oftentimes the IUPAC name will be unfamiliar to those who work in a commercial setting and a less cumbersome and/or more familiar name is used. Thus the name which appears as the chemical name in the tables of each family is more often a "familiar" name than the IUPAC name. The list of synonyms given in these tables is not exhaustive but is a sample of some of the names which have been applied to the chemical. The CAS Registry Number (RN) is a numerical identifier used in each of the tables for consistent identification. The CAS number is unique and is applied to both chemicals and mixtures and is used universally and is in the format xxx-xx-x, which permits efficient database searching. The Chemical Abstracts Service is an entity within the American Chemical Society, a professional society of chemists headquartered in the United States.
2. Health Hazards
The data on short-term exposure, long-term exposure, routes of exposure and associated symptoms are adapted from the International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC) series produced by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), a cooperative programme of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The abbreviations used are: CNS = central nervous system; CVS = cardiovascular system; GI = gastrointestinal system; PNS = peripheral nervous system; resp tract = respiratory tract.
The remaining data on target organs and routes of entry and their associated symptoms are taken from the NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards published by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (1994, NIOSH Publication No. 94-116).
The following abbreviations are used: abdom = abdominal; abnor = abnormal/abnormalities; album = albuminuria; anes = anesthesia; anor = anorexia; anos = anosmia (loss of the sense of smell); appre = apprehension; arrhy = arrhythmias; aspir = aspiration; asphy = asphyxia; BP = blood pressure; breath = breathing; bron = bronchitis; broncopneu = bronchopneumonia; bronspas = bronchospasm; BUN = blood urea nitrogen; [carc] = potential occupational carcinogen; card = cardiac; chol = cholinesterase; cirr = cirrhosis; CNS = central nervous system; conc = concentration; conf = confusion; conj = conjunctivitis; constip = constipation; convuls = convulsions; corn = corneal; CVS = cardiovascular system; cyan = cyanosis; decr = decreased; depress = depressant/depression; derm = dermatitis; diarr = diarrhea; dist = disturbance; dizz = dizziness; drow = drowsiness; dysfunc = dysfunction; dysp = dyspnea (breathing difficulty); emphy = emphysema; eosin = eosinophilia; epilep = epileptiform; epis = epistaxis (nosebleed); equi = equilibrium; eryt = erythema (skin redness); euph = euphoria; fail = failure; fasc = fasiculation; FEV = forced expiratory volume; fib = fibrosis; fibri = fibrillation; ftg = fatigue; func = function; GI = gastrointestinal; gidd = giddiness; halu = hallucinations; head = headache; hema = hematuria (blood in the urine); hemato = hematopoietic; hemog = hemoglobinuria; hemorr = hemorrhage; hyperpig = hyperpigmentation; hypox = hypoxemia (reduced oxygen in the blood); inco = incoordination; incr = increase(d); inebri = inebriation; inflamm = inflammation; inj = injury; insom = insomnia; irreg = irregularity/ irregularities; irrit = irritation; irrty = irritability; jaun = jaundice; kera = keratitis (inflammation of the cornea); lac = lacrimation (discharge of tears);lar = laryngeal; lass = 1assitude (weakness, exhaustion); leth = lethargy (drowsiness or indifference); leucyt = leukocytosis (increased blood leukocytes); leupen = leukopenia (reduced blood leukocytes); li-head = lightheadedness; liq = liquid; local = localized; low-wgt = weight loss; mal = malaise (vague feeling of discomfort); malnut = malnutrition; methemo = methemoglobinemia; monocy = monocytosis (increased blood monocytes); molt = molten; muc memb = mucous membrane; musc = muscle; narco = narcosis; nau = nausea; nec = necrosis; neph = nephritis; ner = nervousness; numb = numbness; opac = opacity; palp = palpitations; para = paralysis; pares = paresthesia; perf = perforation; peri neur = peripheral neuropathy; periorb = periorbital (situated around the eye); phar = pharyngeal; photo = phtophobia (abnormal visual intolerance to light); pneu = penumonia; pneuitis = pneumonitis; PNS = peripheral nervous system; polyneur = polyneuropathy; prot = proteinuria; pulm = pulmonary; RBC = red blood cell; repro = reproductive; resp = respiratory; restless = restlessness; retster = retrosternal (occurring behind the sternum); rhin = rhinorrhea (discharge of thin nasal mucus); salv = salivation; sens = sensitization; sez = seizure; short = shortness; sneez = sneezing; sol = solid; soln = solution; som = somnolence (sleepiness, unnatural drowsiness); subs = substernal (occurring beneath the sternum); sweat = sweating; swell = swelling; sys = system; tacar = tachycardia; tend = tenderness; terato = teratogenic; throb = throbbing; tight = tightness; trachbronch = tracheobronchitis; twitch=twitching; uncon = unconsciousness; vap = vapor; venfib = ventricular fibrillation; vert = vertigo (an illusion of movement); vesic = vesiculation; vis dist = visual disturbance; vomit = vomiting; weak = weakness; wheez=wheezing.
3. Physical and chemical hazards
The data on physical and chemical hazards are adapted from the International Chemical Safety Cards (ICSC) series produced by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS), a cooperative programme of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The risk classification data are taken from Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, 9th edition, developed by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods and published by the United Nations (9th edition, 1995).
The following codes are used: 1.5 = very insensitive substances which have a mass explosion hazard; 2.1 = flammable gas; 2.3 = toxic gas; 3 = flammable liquid; 4.1 = flammable solid; 4.2 = substance liable to spontaneous combustion; 4.3 = substance which in contact with water emits flammable gases; 5.1 = oxidizing substance; 6.1 = toxic; 7 = radioactive; 8 = corrosive substance.
The Recommendations are addressed to governments and international organizations concerned with the regulation of the transport of dangerous goods. They cover principles of classification and definition of classes, listing of the principal dangerous goods, general packing requirements, testing procedures, marking, labelling or placarding, and transport documents. Special recommendations address particular classes of goods. They do not apply to dangerous goods in bulk which, in most countries, are subject to special regulations. The following UN classes and divisions are frequently found in the chemical tables in this Guide to chemicals and in the chapter Metals: Chemical properties and toxicity:
Division 2.3—Toxic gases: Gases which (a) are known to be so toxic or corrosive to humans as to pose a hazard to health or (b) are presumed to be toxic or corrosive to humans because they have an LC50 value equal to or less than 5,000 ml/m3 (ppm) when tested in accordance with 6.2.3. Gases meeting the above criteria owing to their corrosivity are to be classified as toxic with a subsidiary corrosive risk.
Class 4—Flammable solids; substances liable to spontaneous combustion; substances which in contact with water emit flammable gases
Division 4.2—Substances liable to spontaneous combustion: Substances which are liable to spontaneous heating under normal conditions encountered in transport, or to heating up in contact with air, and being then liable to catch fire.
Division 4.3—Substances which in contact with water emit flammable gases: Substances which, by interaction with water, are liable to become spontaneously flammable or to give off flammable gases in dangerous quantities.
Class 5—Oxidizing substances; organic peroxides
Division 5.1—Oxidizing substances: Substances which, while in themselves not necessarily combustible, may, generally by yielding oxygen, cause, or contribute to, the combustion of other material.
Class 6—Toxic and infectious substances
Division 6.1—Toxic substances: These are substances liable either to cause death or serious injury or to harm human health if swallowed or inhaled or by skin contact.
Class 8—Corrosive substances
These are substances which, by chemical action, will cause severe damage when in contact with living tissue, or, in the case of leakage, will materially damage, or even destroy, other goods or the means of transport; they may also cause other hazards.
UN Codes, identification numbers assigned to hazardous materials in transportation by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods, are used to readily identify hazardous materials in transportation emergencies. Those preceded by "NA" are associated with descriptions not recognized for international shipments, except to and from Canada.
4. Physical and chemical properties
Relative density is measured at 20°C/4°C, ambient and water temperature, respectively, unless otherwise specified.
The following abbreviations are found: bp = boiling point; mp = melting point; mw = molecular weight; sol = soluble; sl sol = slightly soluble; v sol = very soluble; misc = miscible; insol = insoluble; pvap = vapour pressure; inflam. limit = inflammability limit (vol-% in the air); ll = lower limit; ul = upper limit ; fl. p = flashpoint; cc = closed cup; oc = open cup; auto ig. p = auto ignition point
An inorganic acid is a compound of hydrogen and one or more other element (with the exception of carbon) that dissociates or breaks down to produce hydrogen ions when dissolved in water or other solvents. The resultant solution has certain characteristics such as the ability to neutralize bases, turn litmus paper red and produce specific colour changes with certain other indicators. Inorganic acids are often termed mineral acids. The anhydrous form may be gaseous or solid.
An inorganic anhydride is an oxide of metalloid which can combine with water to form an inorganic acid. It can be produced by synthesis such as: S + O2 → SO2, which can be transformed into an acid by the addition of a water molecule (hydration); or by eliminating water from an acid, such as:
2HMnO4 → Mn2O7 + H2O
Inorganic anhydrides share in general the biological properties of their acids, since hydration can readily occur in watery biological media.
Inorganic acids are used as chemical intermediates and catalysts in chemical reactions. They are found in a variety of industries, including metal- and woodworking, textile, dye-stuff, petroleum and photography. In metalworking they are often used as cleaning agents before welding, plating or painting. Sulphamic acid, sulphuric acid and hydrochloric acid are used in electroplating, and perchloric acid is used in metal plating.
Hydrochloric acid, sulphuric acid, perchloric acid and sulphamic acid are widely used in industry. Hydrochloric acid, or hydrogen chloride in aqueous solution, is used for industrial acidizing, for refining ores of tin and tantalum, for converting cornstarch to syrup, and removing scale from boilers and heat-exchange equipment. It is also a tanning agent in the leather industry. Sulphuric acid is used in parchment paper and in various processes including purification of petroleum, refining vegetable oil, carbonization of wool fabrics, extraction of uranium from pitchblende, and iron and steel pickling. Sulphuric acid and perchloric acid are used in the explosives industry. Sulphamic acid is a flame retardant in the wood and textile industries and a bleaching agent and bactericide in the pulp and paper industry. It is also used for chlorine stabilization in swimming pools.
Nitric acid is used in the manufacture of ammonium nitrate for fertilizer and explosives. In addition, it is used in organic synthesis, metallurgy, ore flotation, and for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
The specific hazards of the industrially important inorganic acids will be found below; however, it should be noted that all these acids have certain dangerous properties in common. Solutions of inorganic acids are not flammable in themselves; however, when they come into contact with certain other chemical substances or combustible materials, a fire or explosion may result. These acids react with certain metals with the liberation of hydrogen, which is a highly flammable and explosive substance when mixed with air or oxygen. They may also act as oxidizing agents and, when in contact with organic or other oxidizable materials, may react destructively and violently.
Health effects. The inorganic acids are corrosive, especially in high concentrations; they will destroy body tissue and cause chemical burns when in contact with the skin and mucous membranes. In particular, the danger of eye accidents is pronounced. Inorganic acid vapours or mists are respiratory tract and mucous membrane irritants, although the degree of irritation depends to a large degree on the concentration; discolouration or erosion of the teeth may also occur in exposed workers. Repeated skin contact may lead to dermatitis. Accidental ingestion of concentrated inorganic acids will result in severe irritation of the throat and stomach, and destruction of the tissue of internal organs, perhaps with fatal outcome, when immediate remedial action is not taken. Certain inorganic acids may also act as systemic poisons.
Safety and Health Measures
Wherever possible, highly corrosive acids should be replaced by acids which present less hazard; it is essential to use only the minimum concentration necessary for the process. Wherever inorganic acids are used, appropriate measures should be instituted concerning storage, handling, waste disposal, ventilation, personal protection and first aid.
Storage. Avoid contact with other acids and combustible or oxidizable materials. Electrical installations should also be of the acid-resistant type.
Storage areas should be separated from other premises, well ventilated, sheltered from sunlight and sources of heat; they should have a cement floor and contain no substances with which an acid might react. Large stocks should be surrounded by kerbs or sills to retain the acid in the event of leakage, and provisions for neutralization should be made. A fire hydrant and a supply of self-contained respiratory protective equipment for emergency or rescue purposes should be provided outside the storage premises. Spillages should be dealt with immediately by hosing down; in the event of a large leakage, personnel should vacate the premises and then, having donned emergency equipment, return to neutralize the acid with water or calcined sand. Electrical equipment should be of the waterproof type and resistant to acid attack. Safety lighting is desirable.
Containers should be kept tightly closed and should be clearly labelled to indicate the contents. Decompression measures should be taken where necessary. Piping, couplings, gaskets and valves should all be made of material resistant to nitric acid. Glass or plastic containers should be adequately protected against impact; they should be kept off the floor to facilitate flushing in the event of leakage. Drums should be stored on cradles or racks and chocked in position. Gas cylinders of gaseous anhydrous acid should be stored upright with the cap in place. Empty and full containers should preferably be stored apart. Maintenance and good housekeeping are essential.
Handling. Wherever possible acids should be pumped through sealed systems to prevent all danger of contact. Wherever individual containers have to be transported or decanted, the appropriate equipment should be employed and only experienced persons allowed to undertake the work. Decanting should be done by means of special syphons, transfer pumps, or drum or carboy tilting cradles and so on. Cylinders of anhydrous acid gas require special discharge valves and connections.
Where acids are mixed with other chemicals or water, workers must be fully aware of any violent or dangerous reaction that may take place. For example, a concentrated acid should be slowly added to water, rather than vice versa, in order to avoid the generation of excessive heat and violent reactions which can cause splashes and skin or eye contact.
Ventilation. Where processes produce acid mists or vapours, such as in electroplating, exhaust ventilation should be installed.
Personal protection. Persons exposed to dangerous splashes of inorganic acids should be required to wear acid-resistant personal protective equipment including hand and arm protection, eye and face protection and aprons, overalls or coats. Provided safe working procedures are adopted, the use of respiratory protective equipment should not be necessary; however, it should be available for emergency use in the event of leakage or spillage.
When workers are required to enter a tank that has contained inorganic acids in order to carry out maintenance or repairs, the tanks should first be purged and all precautions for entry into enclosed spaces, as described elsewhere in the Encyclopaedia, should be taken.
Training. All workers required to handle acids should be instructed about their hazardous properties. Certain work activities, such as those involving enclosed spaces or handling of large quantities of acids, should always be done by two persons, one being ready to come to the other’s aid in case of need.
Sanitation. Personal hygiene is of utmost importance where there is contact with inorganic acids. Adequate washing and sanitary facilities should be provided and workers encouraged to wash thoroughly before meals and at the ends of shifts.
First aid. Essential treatment for inorganic acid contamination of skin or eyes is immediate and copious flushing with running water. Emergency showers and eyewash fountains, baths or bottles should be strategically located. Splashes in the eye should be treated with copious irrigation with water. Contaminated clothing should be removed and other appropriate emergency skin treatment procedures should be in place and personnel trained in their administration. Neutralization of the acid in the affected area with an alkaline solution such as 2 to 3% sodium bicarbonate, or 5% sodium carbonate and 5% sodium hyposulphite, or 10% triethanolamine is a standard procedure.
Persons who have inhaled acid mists should be removed immediately from the contaminated zone and prevented from making any effort. They should be put in the care of a physician immediately. In the event of accidental ingestion, the victim should be given a neutralizing substance, and gastric lavage should be carried out. In general, vomiting should not be induced since this may make the injury more widespread.
Medical supervision. Workers should receive pre-employment and periodic medical examinations. The pre-employment examination should be particularly directed at the detection of chronic respiratory, gastro-intestinal or nervous diseases and any eye and skin diseases. Periodic examinations should take place at frequent intervals and should include a check on the condition of the teeth.
Water pollution. This should be prevented by ensuring that wastewater containing spent acid is not emptied into watercourses or sewage systems until the pH (acidity) has been brought to a level that is between 5.5 and 8.5.
Anhydrous hydrogen chloride is not corrosive; however, aqueous solutions attack nearly all metals (mercury, silver, gold, platinum, tantalum and certain alloys are exceptions) with release of hydrogen. Hydrochloric acid reacts with sulphides to form chlorides and hydrogen sulphide. It is a very stable compound, but at high temperatures it decomposes into hydrogen and chlorine.
Hazards. The special hazards of hydrochloric acid are its corrosive action on skin and mucous membranes, the formation of hydrogen when it contacts certain metals and metallic hydrides, and its toxicity. Hydrochloric acid will produce burns of the skin and mucous membranes, the severity being determined by the concentration of the solution; this may lead to ulcerations followed by keloid and retactile scarring. Contact with the eyes may produce reduced vision or blindness. Burns on the face may produce serious and disfiguring scars. Frequent contact with aqueous solutions may lead to dermatitis.
The vapours have an irritant effect on the respiratory tract, causing laryngitis, glottal oedema, bronchitis, pulmonary oedema and death. Digestive diseases are frequent and are characterized by dental molecular necrosis in which the teeth lose their shine, turn yellow, become soft and pointed, and then break off.
Safety and health measures. In addition to the general measures described above, the acid should not be stored in the vicinity of flammable or oxidizing substances, such as nitric acid or chlorates, or near metals and metal hydrides which may be attacked by the acid with the formation of hydrogen. (The explosive limits of hydrogen are 4 to 75% by volume in air.) Electrical equipment should be flameproof and protected against the corrosive action of the vapours.
Nitric acid is highly corrosive and attacks a large number of metals. Reactions between nitric acid and various organic materials are often highly exothermic and explosive, and reactions with metals may produce toxic gases. Nitric acid will cause skin burns, and the vapours are highly irritant to the skin and mucous membranes; inhalation of significant quantities will produce acute poisoning.
Fire and explosion. Nitric acid attacks most substances and all metals except the noble metals (gold, platinum, iridium, thorium, tantalum) and certain alloys. The rate of reaction varies depending on the metal and the concentration of the acid; the gases produced during the reaction include the nitrogen oxides, nitrogen and ammonia, which may have a toxic or asphyxiating effect. When in contact with sodium or potassium, the reaction is violent and dangerous, and nitrogen is released. However, in the case of certain metals, a protective oxide film is formed which prevents further attack. Nitric acid may react explosively with hydrogen sulphide. Nitrates obtained by the action of the acid on various bases are powerful oxidizing agents.
Even in dilute concentrations, nitric acid is a powerful oxidizing material. Solutions of a concentration higher than 45% may cause the spontaneous ignition of organic materials such as turpentine, wood, straw and so on.
Health hazards. Solutions of nitric acid are highly corrosive and will produce lesions of the skin, eyes and mucous membranes, the severity of which will depend on the duration of contact and the acid concentration; the lesions range from irritation to burns and localized necrosis following prolonged contact. Nitric acid mists are also corrosive to the skin, mucous membranes and dental enamel.
Nitric acid vapours will always contain a certain proportion of other gaseous nitrogen compounds (e.g., nitrogen oxides), depending on the concentration of the acid and the type of operation. Inhalation may produce acute poisoning and peracute poisoning. Peracute poisoning is rare and can be fatal. Acute poisoning generally comprises three phases: the first consists of irritation of the upper respiratory tract (burning in the throat, cough, feeling of suffocation) and of the eyes with tearing (lacrimation); the second phase is misleading, since pathological signs are absent for a period of up to several hours; in the third phase, the respiratory disorders reappear and may develop rapidly into acute pulmonary oedema, often with serious outcome.
Accidental ingestion will produce severe damage in the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and stomach, and may have serious sequelae.
Safety and health measures. Depending on the quantities and concentrations involved, nitric acid should be stored in stainless steel, aluminium or glass containers. Glass carboys or winchesters should be protected by a metal envelope to provide resistance to impacts. However, nitric acid containing any fluorinated compounds should not be stored in glass. Organic materials such as wood, straw, sawdust and so on, should be kept away from operations involving nitric acid. When nitric acid is to be diluted with water, the acid should be poured into the water, and localized heating should be avoided.
Sulphuric acid is a strong acid which, when heated to above 30 °C, gives off vapour and, above 200 °C, emits sulphur trioxide. When cold, it reacts with all metals including platinum; when hot, reactivity is intensified. Dilute sulphuric acid dissolves aluminium, chromium, cobalt, copper, iron, manganese, nickel and zinc, but not lead or mercury. It has a great affinity for water, absorbs atmospheric moisture, and abstracts water from organic materials, causing charring. It decomposes salts of all other acids except silicic acid.
Sulphuric acid is found in the native state in the vicinity of volcanoes, in particular in the volcanic gases.
Hazards. The action of sulphuric acid on the body is that of a powerful caustic and general toxic agent. Introduced into the body in liquid or vapour form, it causes intense irritation and chemical burns of the mucous membranes of the respiratory and digestive tract, the teeth, eyes and skin. On contact with the skin, sulphuric acid causes violent dehydration. It releases heat in sufficient quantities to produce burns that are similar to thermal burns and may be classified accordingly as first, second or third degree. The depth of the lesions depends on the concentration of the acid and the length of contact. Inhalation of vapours produces the following symptoms: nasal secretion, sneezing, a burning feeling in the throat and retrosternal region; these are followed by cough, respiratory distress, sometimes accompanied by spasm of the vocal cords, and a burning sensation in the eyes with lacrimation and conjunctival congestion. High concentrations may cause bloody nasal secretion and sputum, haematemesis, gastritis and so on. Dental lesions are common; they affect mainly the incisors and present as brown staining, enamel striation, caries and rapid and painless destruction of the tooth crown.
Occupational exposures to strong inorganic acid mists, such as sulphuric acid mists, have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as being carcinogenic to humans.
Chemical burns are the injury most commonly encountered in sulphuric acid production workers. Concentrated solutions cause deep burns of mucous membranes and skin; initially the zone of contact with the acid is bleached and turns brown prior to the formation of a clearly defined ulcer on a light red background. These wounds are long in healing and may frequently cause extensive scarring that results in functional inhibition. If burning is sufficiently extensive, the outcome may prove fatal. Repeated skin contact with low concentrations of acid causes skin desiccation and ulceration of the hands, and panaris or chronic purulent inflammation around the nails. Splashes of acid in the eyes may have particularly serious consequences: deep corneal ulceration, kerato-conjunctivitis and palpebral lesions with severe sequelae.
The general toxic action of sulphuric acid causes alkaline depletion of the body (i.e., an acidosis which affects the nervous system and produces agitation, hesitant gait and generalized weakness).
Safety and health measures. The most effective measures are the total enclosure of processes and the mechanization of handling procedures to prevent all personal contact with sulphuric acid. Particular attention should be devoted to acid storage, handling and application procedures, the ventilation and lighting of workplaces, maintenance and good housekeeping, and personal protective equipment. In addition to the general precautions given above, sulphuric acid should not be stored in the vicinity of chromates, chlorates or similar substances in view of the fire and explosion hazard involved.
Fire and explosion. Sulphuric acid and oleum are not flammable per se. However, they react vigorously with numerous substances, especially organic materials, with the release of sufficient heat to produce a fire or explosion; in addition, the hydrogen released during reaction with metals may form an explosive mixture in air.
Catalysts. Where a vanadium catalyst is used in the contact process, workers should be protected against exposure to emissions of ammonium vanadate or vanadium pentoxide, which are employed on a diatomite or silica gel support.
Inorganic acids, tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Organic acids and their derivatives cover a wide range of substances. They are used in nearly every type of chemical manufacture. Because of the variety in the chemical structure of the members of the organic acid group, several types of toxic effects may occur. These compounds have a primary irritant effect, the degree determined in part by acid dissociation and water solubility. Some may cause severe tissue damage similar to that seen with strong mineral acids. Sensitization may also occur, but is more common with the anhydrides than the acids.
For the purpose of this article, organic acids may be divided into saturated monocarboxylic and unsaturated monocarboxylic acids, aliphatic dicarboxylic acids, halogenated acetic acids, miscellaneous aliphatic monocarboxylic acids and aromatic carboxylic acids. Many carboxylic acids are of importance because of their use in food, beverages, drugs and a range of manufacturing processes. The following are among the most common: adipic acid, azelaic acid, fumaric acid, itaconic acid, maleic acid, malic acid, malonic acid, oxalic acid, pimelic acid, sebacic acid, succinic acid, tartaric acid and thiomalic acid.
The long-chain saturated monocarboxylic acids are the fatty acids and are in the main derived from natural sources. Synthetic fatty acids may also be manufactured by air oxidation of paraffins (aliphatic hydrocarbons) using metal catalysts. They are also produced by the oxidation of alcohols with caustic soda.
Organic acids are employed in the plastics, tanning, textile, paper, metal, pharmaceutical, food, beverage and cosmetics industries. Organic acids are also found in perfumes, herbicides, dyes, lubricants and cleaners.
Formic acid and acetic acid are the major industrial chemicals in the group of saturated monocarboxylic acids. Formic acid is primarily used in the textile and leather industries. It acts as a dye-exhausting agent for a number of natural and synthetic fibres and as a reducing agent in chrome dyeing. Formic acid is used as a deliming agent and a neutralizer in the leather industry, and as a coagulant for rubber latex. It also finds use in the manufacture of fumigants and insecticides. Acetic acid serves as a chemical intermediate, a deliming agent during leather tanning, a solvent, and an oil-well acidizer. In addition, it is an additive for various foods and glazes as well as a catalyst and a finishing agent in the dye-stuff and textile industries.
Weak concentrations of acetic acid (vinegar contains about 4 to 6%) are produced by aerobic fermentation (Acetobacter) of alcohol solutions. Acetic acid is one of the most widely used organic acids. It is employed in the production of cellulose acetate, vinyl acetate, inorganic acetates, organic acetates and acetic anhydride. Acetic acid itself is used in the dyeing industry, pharmaceutical industry, the canning and food preserving industry and pigment production.
Chloroacetic acid is used in the pharmaceutical, dye-stuffs and chemical industries as a chemical intermediate. Salicylic acid acts as another chemical intermediate used in the synthesis of aspirin and in the rubber and dye-stuffs industries. Benzoic acid, nonanoic acid, ascorbic acid and oleic acid (9-octadecenoic acid) are other useful compounds found in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries.
Palmitic acid and stearic acid have a wide application in soaps, cosmetics, detergents, lubricants, protective coatings and intermediate chemicals. Propionic acid is used in organic synthesis. It is also a mould inhibitor and a food preservative. Acrylic acid, methacrylic acid and crotonic acid are employed in the manufacture of resins and plasticizers in the paper, plastics and paint industries. In addition, acrylic acid is an ingredient in floor-polish formulations. Crotonic acid finds use in the manufacture of softening agents for synthetic rubber. Lactic acid, butyric acid and gallic acid are employed in the leather-tanning industry. Lactic acid is also used in adhesives, plastics and textiles. It serves as a food acidulant and as an agent in oil-well acidizing. Glycolic acid is used in the leather, textile, electroplating, adhesives and metal-cleaning industries.
The dicarboxylic acids (succinic acid, maleic acid, fumaric acid, adipic acid) and the tricarboxylic acid (citric acid) are useful in the food, beverage and pharmaceutical industries. Succinic acid is also used in the manufacture of lacquers and dyes. Maleic acid is used in the manufacture of synthetic resins and in organic syntheses. Maleic acid acts as a preservative for oils and fats; its salts are used in the dyeing of cotton, wool and silk. Fumaric acid is used in polyesters and alkyd resins, plastics surface coatings, food acidulants, inks and organic syntheses. The majority of adipic acid is utilized for nylon production, while smaller quantities are used in plasticizers, synthetic lubricants, polyurethanes and food acidulants.
Oxalic acid is a scouring agent in textile finishing, stripping and cleaning, and a component of household formulations for metal cleaning. It also finds use in the paper, photography and rubber industries. Oxalic acid is used in calico printing and dyeing, bleaching straw hats and leather, and cleaning wood. Aminoacetic acid is used as a buffering agent and in syntheses. Peracetic acid is used as a bleach, catalyst and oxidant.
Commercial naphthenic acid is usually a dark-coloured malodourous mixture of naphthenic acids. Naphthenic acids are derived from cycloparaffins in petroleum, probably by oxidation. Commercial acids are usually viscous liquid mixtures and may be separated as low- and high-boiling fractions. The molecular weights vary from 180 to 350. They are used principally in the preparation of paint dryers, where the metallic salts, such as lead, cobalt and manganese, act as oxidizing agents. Metallic naphthenic acids are used as catalysts in chemical processes. An industrial advantage is their solubility in oil.
Organic acid anhydrides
An anhydride is defined as an oxide which, when combined with water, gives an acid or a base. Acid anhydrides are derived from the removal of water from two molecules of the corresponding acid, such as:
2HMnO4 → Mn2O7 + H2O
Industrially, the most important anhydrides are acetic and phthalic. Acetic anhydride is used in the plastics, explosives, perfume, food, textile and pharmaceutical industries, and as a chemical intermediate. Phthalic anhydride serves as a plasticizer in vinyl chloride polymerization. It is also used for the production of saturated and unsaturated polyester resins, benzoic acid, pesticides, and certain essences and perfumes. Phthalic anhydride is employed in the production of phthalocyanine dyes and alkyd resins used in paints and lacquers. Maleic anhydride has a significant number of applications as well.
Propionic anhydride is used in the manufacture of perfumes, alkyd resins, drugs and dyes, while maleic anhydride, trimellitic anhydride and acetic anhydride find use in the plastics industry. Trimellitic anhyide (TMA) is also utilized in the dye-stuff, printing and automotove upholstery industries. It is used as a curing agent for epoxy and other resins, in vinyl plasticizers, paints, coatings, dyes, pigments and a wide variety of other manufactured products. Some of these products find applications in high-temperature plastics, wire insulation and gaskets.
The low-molecular-weight monocarboxylic acids are primary irritants and produce severe damage to tissues. Strict precautions are necessary in handling; suitable protective equipment should be available and any skin or eye splashes irrigated with copious amounts of water. The most important acids of this group are acetic acid and formic acid.
The long-chain saturated monocarboxylic acids (the fatty acids) are non-irritant and of a very low order of toxicity. They appear to pose few problems in industrial use.
Unsaturated monocarboxylic acids are highly reactive substances and are recognized as severe irritants of the skin, eye and respiratory tract in concentrated solution. Hazards appear to be related to acute rather than cumulative exposures.
The majority of these acids appear to present minimal hazard from low-level chronic exposure, and many are normally present in human metabolic processes. Primary irritant effects are present with a number of these acids, however, particularly in concentrated solutions or as dusts. Sensitization is rare. As the materials are all solids at room temperature, contact is usually in the form of dust or crystals.
Acetic acid. Acetic acid vapour may form explosive mixtures with air and constitute a fire hazard either directly or by the release of hydrogen. Glacial acetic acid or acetic acid in concentrated form are primary skin irritants and will produce erythema (reddening), chemical burns and blisters. In cases of accidental ingestion, severe ulceronecrotic lesions of the upper digestive tract have been observed with bloody vomiting, diarrhoea, shock and haemoglobinuria followed by urinary disorders (anuria and uraemia).
The vapours have an irritant action on exposed mucous membranes, particularly the conjunctivae, rhinopharynx and upper respiratory tract. Acute bronchopneumonia developed in a woman who was made to inhale acetic acid vapours following a fainting attack.
Workers exposed for a number of years to concentrations of up to 200 ppm have been found to suffer from palpebral oedema with hypertrophy of the lymph nodes, conjunctival hyperaemia, chronic pharyngitis, chronic catarrhal bronchitis and, in some cases, asthmatic bronchitis and traces of erosion on the vestibular surface of the teeth (incisors and canines).
The extent of acclimatization is remarkable; however, such acclimatization does not mean that toxic effects will not also occur. Following repeated exposure, for example, workers may complain of digestive disorders with pyrosis and constipation. The skin on the palms of the hands is subject to the greatest exposure and becomes dry, cracked and hyperkeratotic, and any small cuts and abrasions are slow to heal.
Formic acid. The principal hazard is that of severe primary damage to the skin, eye or mucosal surface. Sensitization is rare, but may occur in a person previously sensitized to formaldehyde. Accidental injury in humans is the same as for other relatively strong acids. No delayed or chronic effects have been noted. Formic acid is a flammable liquid, and its vapour forms flammable and explosive mixtures with air.
Propionic acid in solution has corrosive properties towards several metals. It is irritant to eye, respiratory system and skin. The same precautions recommended for exposure to formic acid are applicable, taking into account the lower flashpoint of propionic acid.
Maleic acid is a strong acid and produces marked irritation of the skin and mucous membranes. Severe effects, particularly in the eye, can result from concentrations as low as 5%. There are no reports of cumulative toxic effects in humans. The hazard in industry is of primary irritation of exposed surfaces, and this should be averted where necessary by the provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, generally in the form of impermeable gloves or gauntlets.
Fumaric acid is a relatively weak acid and has a low solubility in water. It is a normal metabolite and is less toxic orally than tartaric acid. It is a mild irritant of skin and mucous membranes, and no problems of industrial handling are known.
Adipic acid is non-irritant and of very low toxicity when ingested.
Halogenated acetic acids
The halogenated acetic acids are highly reactive. They include chloroacetic acid, dichloroacetic acid (DCA), trichloroacetic acid (TCA), bromoacetic acid, iodoacetic acid, fluoroacetic acid and trifluoroacetic acid (TFA).
The halogenated acetic acids cause severe damage to the skin and mucous membranes and, when ingested, may interfere with essential enzyme systems in the body. Strict precautions are necessary for their handling. They should be prepared and used in enclosed plant, the openings in which should be limited to the necessities of manipulation. Exhaust ventilation should be applied to the enclosure to ensure that fumes or dust do not escape through the limited openings. Personal protective equipment should be worn by persons engaged in the operations, and eye protective equipment and respiratory protective equipment should be available for use when necessary.
Fluoroacetic acid. Di- and trifluoroacetic acids have a lower level of toxicity than monofluoroacetic acid (fluoroacetic acid). Monofluoroacetic acid and its compounds are stable, highly toxic and insidious. At least four biological plants in South Africa and Australia owe their toxicity to this acid (Dichapetalum cymosum, Acacia georginae, Palicourea marcgravii), and recently more than 30 species of Gastrolobium and Oxylobrium in Western Australia have been found to contain various amounts of fluoroacetate.
The biological mechanism responsible for the symptoms of fluoroacetate poisoning involves the “lethal synthesis” of fluorocitric acid, which in turn blocks the tricarboxylic acid cycle by inhibiting the enzyme aconitase. The resultant deprivation of energy by stopping of the Krebs cycle is followed by cellular dysfunction and death. It is impossible to be specific about the toxic dose of fluoroacetic acid for humans; a likely range lies between 2 and 10 mg/kg; but several related fluoroacetates are even more toxic than this. A drop or two of the poison by inhalation, ingestion and absorption through skin cuts and abrasion or undamaged skin can be fatal.
From a study of hospital case histories, it is apparent that the major toxic effects of fluoroacetates in humans involve the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Severe epileptiform convulsions alternate with coma and depression; death may result from asphyxia during a convulsion or from respiratory failure. The most prominent features, however, are cardiac irregularities, notably ventricular fibrillation and sudden cardiac arrest. These symptoms (which are indistinguishable from those frequently encountered clinically) are usually preceded by an initial latent period of up to 6 h characterized by nausea, vomiting, excessive salivation, numbness, tingling sensations, epigastric pain and mental apprehension; other signs and symptoms which may develop subsequently include muscular twitching, low blood pressure and blurred vision.
Chloroacetic acid. This material is a highly reactive chemical and should be handled with care. Gloves, goggles, rubber boots and impervious overalls are mandatory when workers are in contact with concentrated solutions.
Glycolic acid is stronger than acetic acid and produces very severe chemical burns of the skin and eyes. No cumulative effects are known, and it is believed to be metabolized to glycine. Strict precautions are necessary for its handling. These are similar to those required for acetic acid. Concentrated solutions can cause burns of the skin and eye. No cumulative effects are known. Personal protective equipment should be worn by persons handling concentrated solutions of this acid.
Sorbic acid is used as a fungicide in foods. It is a primary irritant of the skin, and individuals may develop sensitivities to it. For these reasons contact with the skin should be avoided.
Salicylic acid is a strong irritant when in contact with skin or mucous membranes. Strict precautions are necessary for plant operatives.
Acid anhydrides have higher boiling points than the corresponding acids. Their physiological effects generally resemble those of the corresponding acids, but they are more potent eye irritants in the vapour phase, and may produce chronic conjunctivitis. They are slowly hydrolyzed on contact with body tissues and may occasionally cause sensitization. Adequate ventilation should be provided and suitable personal protective equipment should be worn. In certain circumstances, particularly those associated with maintenance work, suitable eye protection equipment and respiratory protective equipment are necessary.
There have been reports of conjunctivitis, bloody nasal excreta, atrophy of the nasal mucosa, hoarseness, cough and bronchitis in workers employed in the production of phthalic acid and anhydride. It has been recognized that phthalic anhydride causes bronchial asthma, and skin sensitization has been reported following prolonged exposure to phthalic anhydride; the lesion is usually an allergic dermatitis. A specific IgE to phthalic anhydride has also been identified.
Phthalic anhydride is flammable and constitutes a moderate fire hazard. Its toxicity is comparatively low in relation to other industrial acid anhydrides, but it acts as a skin, eye and upper respiratory tract irritant. Since phthalic anhydride has no effect on dry skin, but burns wet skin, it is probable that the actual irritant is phthalic acid, which is formed on contact with water.
Phthalic anhydride must be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place away from open flames and oxidizing substances. Good local and general ventilation are required where it is handled. In many processes phthalic anhydride is used not as flakes but as a liquid. When so used, it is brought to the plant in tanks and directly pumped into the pipe system, preventing contact as well as contamination of the air with dust. This has led to the complete disappearance of manifestations of irritations among the workers in such plants. However, vapours liberated from liquid phthalic anhydride are as irritating as the flakes; care must, therefore, be taken to avoid any leakage from the pipe system. In case of spillage or contact with the skin, the latter should be washed immediately and repeatedly with water.
Workers who are handling phthalic derivatives must be under medical supervision. Special attention should be paid to asthma-like symptoms and skin sensitization. If any such symptoms are noticed, the worker should be moved to another job. Skin contact is to be avoided under all circumstances. Suitable clothing, such as rubber hand protection, is recommended. Pre-employment examinations are necessary to ensure that persons with bronchial asthma, eczema or other allergic diseases are not exposed to phthalic anhydride.
Acetic anhydride. When exposed to heat, acetic anhydride can emit toxic fumes, and its vapours can explode in the presence of flame. It can react violently with strong acids and oxidizers such as sulphuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, permanganates, chromium trioxide and hydrogen peroxide, as well as with soda.
Acetic anhydride is a strong irritant and has corrosive properties on contact with eyes, usually with delayed action; contact is followed by lacrimation, photophobia, conjunctivitis and corneal oedema. Inhalation can cause nasopharyngeal and upper respiratory tract irritation, with burning sensations, cough and dyspnoea; prolonged exposure may lead to pulmonary oedema. Ingestion causes pain, nausea and vomiting. Dermatitis can result from prolonged skin exposure.
When contacts are possible, protective clothing and goggles are recommended and eyewash and shower facilities should be available. Chemical cartridge respirators are appropriate for protection against concentrations up to 250 ppm; supplied air respirators with a full eyepiece are recommended for concentrations of 1,000 ppm; self-contained breathing apparatus is necessary in case of fire.
Butyric anhydride is manufactured by catalytic hydrogenation of crotonic acid. Butyric anhydride and propionic anhydride present hazards similar to those of the acetic anhydride.
Maleic anhydride can produce severe eye and skin burns. These may be produced either by solution of maleic anhydride or by flakes of the material in the manufacturing process coming into contact with moist skin. Skin sensitization has occurred. Strict precautions should be taken to prevent contact of the solution with skin or eyes. Suitable goggles and other protective clothing must be worn by plant operatives; ready access to eye irrigation solution bottles is essential. When suspended in air in a finely divided condition, maleic anhydride is capable of forming explosive mixtures with the air. Condensers in which the sublimed material settles in the form of fine crystals should be situated in a safe position outside an occupied room.
Trimellitic anhydride has been reported to have caused pulmonary oedema in workers after severe acute exposure, and airways sensitization after exposure periods of weeks to years, with rhinitis and/or asthma. Several incidents involving the occupational effects of exposure to TMA have been reported. Multiple inhalation exposures to an epoxy resin containing TMA being sprayed on heated pipes was reported to have caused pulmonary oedema in two workers. Exposure levels were not reported but there was no report of upper respiratory tract irritation while the exposures were being experienced, indicating that a hypersensitive reaction might have been involved.
In another report, 14 workers involved in the synthesis of TMA were observed to have respiratory symptoms resulting from sensitization to TMA. In this study three separate responses were noted. The first, rhinitis and/or asthma, developed over an exposure duration of weeks to years. Once sensitized, exposed workers exhibited symptoms immediately after exposure to TMA, which ceased when the exposure was stopped. A second response, also involving sensitization, produced delayed symptoms (cough, wheezing and laboured breathing) 4 to 8 hours after exposure had ceased. The third syndrome was an irritant effect following initial high exposures.
One study of adverse health effects, which also involved measurements of air concentrations of TMA, was conducted by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Thirteen workers involved in the manufacture of an epoxy paint had complaints of eye, skin, nose and throat irritation, shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, heartburn, nausea and headache. Occupational airborne exposure levels averaged 1.5 mg/m3 TMA (range from “none detected” to 4.0 mg/m3) during processing operations and 2.8 mg/m3 TMA (range from “none detected” to 7.5 mg/m3) during decontamination procedures.
Experimental studies with rats have demonstrated intra-alveolar haemorrhage with subacute exposures to TMA at 0.08 mg/m3. The vapour pressure at 20 °C (4 × 10-6 mm Hg) corresponds to a concentration slightly more than 0.04 mg/m3.
Oxalic acid and its derivatives. Oxalic acid is a strong acid which, in solid form or in concentrated solutions, can cause burns of the skin, eyes or mucous membranes; oxalic acid concentrations as low as 5 to 10% are irritating if exposure is prolonged. Human fatalities have been recorded following ingestion of as little as 5 g of oxalic acid. The symptoms appear rapidly and are marked by a shock-like state, collapse and convulsive seizures. Such cases may show marked renal damage with precipitation of calcium oxalate in the renal tubules. The convulsive seizures are thought to be the result of hypocalcaemia. Chronic skin exposure to solutions of oxalic acid or potassium oxalate have been reported to have caused a localized pain and cyanosis in the fingers or even gangrenous changes. This is apparently due to a localized absorption of the oxalic acid and a resultant arteritis. Chronic systemic injury from inhalation of oxalic acid dust appears to be very rare, although the literature describes the case of a man who had been exposed to hot oxalic acid vapours (probably containing an aerosol of oxalic acid) with generalized symptoms of weight loss and chronic inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Because of the strongly acid nature of the dust of oxalic acid, exposure must be carefully controlled and work area concentrations held within acceptable health limits.
Diethyl oxalate is slightly soluble in water; miscible in all proportions in many organic solvents; a colourless, unstable, oily liquid. It is produced by esterification of ethyl alcohol and oxalic acid. It is used, as are other liquid oxalate esters, as a solvent for many natural and synthetic resins.
The symptoms in rats following ingestion of large quantities of diethyl oxalate are those of respiratory disturbances and muscle twitchings. Large quantities of oxalate deposits were found in the renal tubules of a rat after an oral dose of 400 mg/kg. It has been reported that workers exposed to 0.76 mg/l of diethyl oxalate over a period of several months developed complaints of weakness, headache and nausea together with some slight alterations in the blood count. Because of the very low vapour pressure of this substance at room temperature, the reported air concentrations may have been in error. There was also some use of diamyl acetate and diethyl carbonate in this operation.
Safety and Health Measures
All acids should be stored away from all sources of ignition and oxidizing substances. Storage areas should be well ventilated to prevent the accumulation of dangerous concentrations. Containers should be of stainless steel or glass. In the event of leakage or spillage, acetic acid should be neutralized by application of alkaline solutions. Eyewash fountains and emergency showers should be installed for dealing with cases of skin or eye contact. Marking and labelling of containers is essential; for all forms of transport, acetic acid is classified as a dangerous substance.
To prevent damage to the respiratory system and mucous membranes, the atmospheric concentration of organic acids and anhydrides with high vapour pressure should be kept below maximum permissible levels using standard industrial hygiene practices such as local exhaust ventilation and general ventilation, backed up by periodic determination of atmospheric acetic acid concentrations. Detection and analysis, in the absence of other acid vapours, is by means of bubbling in an alkaline solution and determination of residual alkali; in the presence of other acids, fractional distillation used to be necessary; however, a gas chromatographic method is now available for determination in air or water. Dust exposures should be minimized as well.
Persons working with the pure acid or concentrated solutions should wear protective clothing, eye and face protection, hand and arm protection and respiratory protective equipment. Adequate sanitary facilities should be provided and good personal hygiene encouraged.
Organic acids and anhydrides tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Alcohols are a class of organic compounds formed from hydrocarbons by the substitution of one or more hydroxyl groups for an equal number of hydrogen atoms; the term is extended to various substitution products which are neutral in reaction and which contain one or more of the alcohol groups.
Alcohols are used as chemical intermediates and solvents in the textile, dye-stuff, chemical, detergent, perfume, food, beverage, cosmetics, and paint and varnish industries. Some compounds are also used in denaturing alcohol, cleaning products, quick-drying oils and inks, antifreeze, and as frothing agents in ore flotation.
n-Propanol is a solvent found in lacquers, cosmetics, dental lotions, printing inks, contact lenses and brake fluids. It is also an antiseptic, a synthetic flavouring agent for non-alcoholic beverages and food, a chemical intermediate and a disinfectant. Isopropanol is another important industrial solvent, which is used in antifreeze, quick-drying oils and inks, denaturing alcohol and perfumes. It is used as an antiseptic and a substitute for ethyl alcohol in cosmetics (i.e., skin lotions, hair tonics and rubbing alcohol), but cannot be used for pharmaceuticals taken internally. Isopropanol is an ingredient in liquid soaps, window cleaners, a synthetic flavouring additive for non-alcoholic beverages and food, and a chemical intermediate.
n-Butanol is employed as a solvent for paints, lacquers and varnishes, natural and synthetic resins, gums, vegetable oils, dyes and alkaloids. It is used as an intermediate in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and chemicals, and employed in industries producing artificial leather, textiles, safety glass, rubber cement, shellac, raincoats, photographic films and perfumes. sec-Butanol is also used as a solvent and chemical intermediate, and is found in hydraulic brake fluids, industrial cleaning compounds, polishes, paint removers, ore-flotation agents, fruit essences, perfumes, dye-stuffs, and as a chemical intermediate.
Isobutanol, a solvent for surface coatings and adhesives, is employed in lacquers, paint strippers, perfumes, cleaners and hydraulic fluid. tert-Butanol is used for the removal of water from products, as a solvent in the manufacture of drugs, perfumes and flavours, and as a chemical intermediate. It is also a component of industrial cleaning compounds, a denaturant for ethanol, and an octane booster in gasoline. The amyl alcohols are frothing agents in ore flotation. Numerous alcohols, including methylamyl alcohol, 2-ethylbutanol, 2-ethylhexanol, cyclohexanol, 2-octanol and methylcyclohexanol, are used in the manufacture of lacquers. In addition to their numerous uses as solvents, cyclohexanol and methylcyclohexanol are useful in the textile industry. Cyclohexanol is employed in finishing textiles, leather processing, and as a homogenizer for soaps and synthetic detergent emulsions. Methylcyclohexanol is a component in soap-based spot removers and a blending agent for special textile soaps and detergents. Benzyl alcohol is used in the preparation of perfumes, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, dye-stuffs, inks and benzyl esters. It also serves as a lacquer solvent, a plasticizer, and as a degreasing agent in rug cleaners. 2-Chloroethanol finds use as a cleaning agent and as a solvent for cellulose ethers.
Ethanol is the raw material for numerous products, including acetaldehyde, ethyl ether and chloroethane. It is an antifreeze agent, food additive and yeast growth medium, and it is used in the manufacture of surface coatings and gasohol. The production of butadiene from ethyl alcohol has been of great importance to the plastics and synthetic rubber industries. Ethyl alcohol is capable of dissolving a wide range of substances, and for this reason it is used as a solvent in the manufacture of drugs, plastics, lacquers, polishes, plasticizers, perfumes, cosmetics, rubber accelerators and so on.
Methanol is a solvent for inks, dyes, resins and adhesives, and is used in the manufacture of photographic film, plastics, textile soaps, wood stains, coated fabrics, unshatterable glass and waterproofing formulations. It is a starting material in the manufacture of many chemical products as well as an ingredient of paint and varnish removers, dewaxing preparations, embalming fluids and antifreeze mixtures.
Pentanol is used in the manufacture of lacquers, paints, varnishes, paint removers, rubber, plastics, explosives, hydraulic fluids, shoe cement, perfumes, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and in the extraction of fats. Mixtures of the alcohols perform well for many of the solvent uses, but for chemical syntheses or more selective extractions, a pure product is often required.
Next to allyl chloride, allyl alcohol is the most important of the allyl compounds in industry. It is useful in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and in general chemical syntheses, but the largest single use of allyl alcohol is in the production of various allyl esters, of which the most important are diallyl phthalate and diallyl isophthalate, which serve as monomers and repolymers.
Among the synthetic processes by which methyl alcohol is produced is the Fischer-Tropsch reaction between carbon monoxide and hydrogen, from which it is obtained as one of the by-products. It can also be produced by the direct oxidation of hydrocarbons and by a two-step hydrogenation process in which carbon monoxide is hydrogenated to methyl formate, which in turn is hydrogenated to methyl alcohol. The most important synthesis, however, is the modern, medium-pressure, catalytic hydrogenation of carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide at pressures of 100 to 600 kgf/cm2 and temperatures of 250 to 400 °C.
Methyl alcohol has toxic properties under acute and chronic exposure. Injury has occurred amongst alcoholics from ingestion of the liquid, and to process workers from inhalation of the vapour. Animal experiments have established that methyl alcohol can penetrate the skin in sufficient quantity to cause fatal intoxication.
In cases of severe poisoning, most commonly following ingestion, methyl alcohol has a specific effect on the optic nerve, causing blindness as a result of optic nerve degeneration accompanied by degenerative changes of the ganglion cells of the retina and circulatory disturbances in the choroid. Amblyopia is commonly bilateral and may occur within a few hours of ingestion, whilst total blindness usually requires a week. The pupils are dilated, the sclera is congested, there is pallor of the optic disc with central scotoma; breathing and cardiovascular function are depressed; in fatal cases the patient is unconscious but coma may be preceded by delirium.
The consequences of industrial exposure to methyl alcohol vapour may vary considerably among individual workers. Under varying conditions of severity and duration of exposure, indications of intoxication include irritation of the mucous membranes, headache, ringing in the ears, vertigo, insomnia, nystagmus, dilated pupils, clouded vision, nausea, vomiting, colic and constipation. There may be skin injuries arising from the irritant and solvent action of methyl alcohol and from the harmful effects of stains and resins dissolved in it, and these are most likely to be located on the hands, wrists and forearms. In general, however, these harmful effects have been caused by prolonged exposures to concentrations very much in excess of limits recommended by authorities on methyl alcohol vapour poisoning.
Chronic combined exposure to methanol and carbon monoxide has been reported as a causative factor of cerebral atherosclerosis.
The poisonous action of methyl alcohol is attributed to its metabolic oxidation into formic acid or formaldehyde (which have a specific dangerous effect on the nervous system), and possibly to a severe acidosis. This oxidation process may be inhibited by ethyl alcohol.
The conventional industrial hazard is exposure to the vapour in the vicinity of a process in which ethyl alcohol is used. Prolonged exposure to concentrations above 5,000 ppm causes irritation of the eye and nose, headache, drowsiness, fatigue and narcosis. Ethyl alcohol is quite rapidly oxidized in the body to carbon dioxide and water. Unoxidized alcohol is excreted in the urine and expired in air, with the result that the cumulative effect is virtually negligible. Its effect on the skin is similar to that of all fat solvents and, in the absence of precautions, dermatitis may result from contact.
Recently another potential hazard in human exposure to synthetic ethanol was suspected because the product was found to be carcinogenic in mice treated at high doses. Subsequently, epidemiological analyses have revealed an excess incidence of laryngeal cancer (on average five times greater than expected) associated with a strong acid ethanol unit. Diethyl sulphate would appear to be the causative agent, although alkyl sultones and other potential carcinogens were also involved.
Ethyl alcohol is a flammable liquid, and its vapour forms flammable and explosive mixtures with air at normal temperature. An aqueous mixture containing 30% alcohol can produce a flammable mixture of vapour and air at 29 °C. One containing only 5% alcohol can produce a flammable mixture at 62 °C.
While ingestion is not a likely consequence of the use of industrial alcohol, it is a possibility in the case of an addict. The danger of such illicit consumption depends upon the concentration of ethanol, which above 70% is likely to produce oesophageal and gastric injuries, and upon the presence of denaturants. These are added to make the spirit unpalatable when it is obtained free of tax for non-potable purposes. Many of these denaturants (e.g., methyl alcohol, benzene, pyridine bases, methylisobutylketone and kerosene, acetone, gasoline, diethylphthalate and so on) are more harmful to a drinker than the ethyl alcohol itself. It is important therefore to ensure that there is no illicit drinking of the industrial spirit.
Ill effects from the industrial usage of n-propanol have not been reported. In animals it is moderately toxic via inhalation, oral and dermal routes. It is an irritant of the mucous membranes and a depressant of the central nervous system. After inhalation, slight irritation of the respiratory tract and ataxia may occur. It is slightly more toxic than isopropyl alcohol, but it appears to produce the same biological effects. There is evidence of one fatal case after ingestion of 400 ml of n-propanol. The pathomorphological changes were mainly brain oedema and lung oedema, which have also been often observed in ethyl alcohol poisoning. n-Propanol is flammable and a moderate fire hazard.
Isopropanol in animals is slightly toxic via dermal and moderately toxic via oral and intraperitoneal routes. No case of industrial poisoning has been reported. An excess of sinus cancers and laryngeal cancers has been found among workers producing isopropyl alcohol. This could be due to the by-product, isopropyl oil. Clinical experience shows that isopropyl alcohol is more toxic than ethanol but less toxic than methanol. Isopropanol is metabolized to acetone, which can reach high concentrations in the body and is in turn metabolized and excreted by the kidneys and lungs. In humans, concentrations of 400 ppm produce mild irritation of the eyes, nose and throat.
The clinical course of isopropanol poisoning is similar to that of ethanol intoxication. The ingestion of up to 20 ml diluted with water has caused only a sensation of heat and slight lowering of the blood pressure. However, in two fatal cases of acute exposure, within a few hours after ingestion respiratory arrest and deep coma were observed and also hypotension, which is regarded as a bad prognostic sign, was also observed. Isopropanol is a flammable liquid and a dangerous fire hazard.
n-Butanol is potentially more toxic than any of its lower homologues, but the practical hazards associated with its industrial production and use at ordinary temperature are substantially reduced by its lower volatility. High vapour concentrations produce narcosis and death in animals. Exposure of human beings to the vapour may induce irritation of the mucous membranes. The reported levels at which irritation occurs are conflicting and vary between 50 and 200 ppm. Transient mild oedema of the conjunctiva of the eye and a slightly reduced erythrocyte count may occur above 200 ppm. Contact of the liquid with skin may result in irritation, dermatitis and absorption. It is slightly toxic when ingested. It is also a dangerous fire hazard.
The response of animals to sec-butanol vapours is similar to that to n-butanol, but it is more narcotic and lethal. It is a flammable liquid and a dangerous fire hazard.
At high concentrations the action of isobutanol vapour, like the other alcohols, is primarily narcotic. It is irritating to the human eye above 100 ppm. Contact of the liquid with the skin may result in erythema. It is slightly toxic when ingested. This liquid is flammable and a dangerous fire hazard.
Although tert-butanol vapour is more narcotic to mice than that of n- or isobutanol, few industrial ill effects have as yet been reported, other than occasional slight irritation of the skin. It is slightly toxic when ingested. In addition, it is flammable and a dangerous fire hazard.
Although headache and conjunctival irritation may result from prolonged exposure to cyclohexanol vapour, no serious industrial hazard exists. Irritation to the eyes, nose and throat of human subjects results at 100 ppm. Prolonged contact of the liquid with the skin results in irritation, and the liquid is slowly absorbed through the skin. It is slightly toxic when ingested. Cyclohexanol is excreted in the urine, conjugated with glucuronic acid. The liquid is flammable and a moderate fire hazard.
Headaches and irritation of the eye and upper respiratory tract may result from prolonged exposure to the vapour of methylcyclohexanol. Prolonged contact of the liquid with the skin results in irritation, and the liquid is slowly absorbed through the skin. It is slightly toxic when ingested. Methylcyclohexanol, conjugated with glucuronic acid, is excreted in urine. It is a moderate fire hazard.
Other than temporary headache, vertigo, nausea, diarrhoea and loss of weight during exposure to a high vapour concentration resulting from a mixture containing benzyl alcohol, benzene and ester solvents, no industrial illness is known from benzyl alcohol. It is slightly irritating to the skin and produces a mild lacrimating effect. The liquid is flammable and a moderate fire hazard.
Allyl alcohol is a flammable and irritant liquid. It causes irritation in contact with the skin, and absorption through the skin gives rise to deep pain in the region where absorption has occurred in addition to systemic injury. Severe burns may be caused by the liquid if it enters the eye. The vapour does not possess serious narcotic properties, but it has an irritant effect on the mucous membranes and the respiratory system when it is inhaled as an atmospheric contaminant. Its presence in a factory atmosphere has given rise to lacrimation, pain in the eye and blurred vision (necrosis of the cornea, haematuria and nephritis).
Pentyl alcohols exist in several isomeric forms, and of the eight possible structural isomers, three also have optical active forms. Of the structural forms, four are primary alcohols—1-pentanol (amyl alcohol), 2-methyl-1-butanol, isopentyl alcohol (3-methyl-1-butanol, isoamyl alcohol) and neopentyl alcohol (2,2-dimethyl-1-propanol); three are secondary alcohols—2-pentanol, 3-pentanol and 3-methyl-2-butanol; and the final one is a tertiary alcohol—tert-pentyl alcohol (2-methyl-2-butanol).
Pentyl alcohol is irritating to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose and throat at or somewhat above 100 ppm. Although it is absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and the lungs, and through the skin, the incidence of industrial illness is quite low. Mucous membrane irritation occurs readily from the crude product because of the volatile extraneous materials present. The complaints from systemic illness include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, delirium and narcosis. Since pentyl alcohol is frequently used as the impure technical material and in conjunction with other solvents, distinctive symptoms and findings cannot be ascribed to the alcohol with any certainty. The ease with which the alcohols are metabolized is in the decreasing order of primary, secondary and tertiary; more tertiary is excreted unchanged than the others. Although toxicity varies with the chemical configuration, as a general estimation it can be said that a mixture of pentyl alcohols is about ten times as toxic as ethyl alcohol. This is reflected in the recommended exposure limits of the two alcohols—100 ppm and 1,000 ppm, respectively. The fire hazard from the amyl alcohols is not particularly great.
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Aldehydes are members of a class of organic chemical compounds represented by the general structural formula R–CHO. R may be hydrogen or a hydrocarbon radical—substituted or unsubstituted. The important reactions of aldehydes include oxidation (whereby carboxylic acids are formed), reduction (with the formation of alcohol), aldol condensation (when two molecules of an aldehyde react in the presence of a catalyst to produce a hydroxy aldehyde), and the Cannizzaro reaction (with the formation of an alcohol and the sodium salt of an acid). Ketals, or acetals, as they are also called, are diesters of aldehyde or ketone hydrates. They are produced by reactions of aldehydes with alcohols.
Because of their high chemical reactivity, aldehydes are important intermediates for the manufacture of resins, plasticizers, solvents and dyes. They are used in the textile, food, rubber, plastics, leather, chemical and health care industries. The aromatic aldehydes and the higher aliphatic aldehydes are used in the manufacture of perfumes and essences.
Acetaldehyde is primarily used to manufacture acetic acid, but it is also used in the manufacture of ethyl acetate, peracetic acid, pyridine derivatives, perfumes, dyes, plastics and synthetic rubber. Acetaldehyde is utilized for silvering mirrors, hardening gelatin fibers, and as an alcohol denaturant and a synthetic flavoring agent. Paraldehyde, a trimer of acetaldehyde, is used in the dyestuff and leather industries and as a hypnotic agent in medicine. Industrially it has been used as a solvent, rubber activator and antioxidant. Metaldehyde is used as a fuel in portable cooking stoves and for slug control in gardening. Glycidaldehyde has been used as a cross-linking agent for wool finishing, for oil tanning, and for fat liquoring of leather and surgical sutures. Propionaldehyde is utilized in the manufacture of polyvinyl and other plastics and in the synthesis of rubber chemicals. It also functions as a disinfectant and as a preservative. Acrolein is used as a starting material for the manufacture of many organic compounds, including plastics, perfumes, acrylates, textile finishes, synthetic fibres and pharmaceuticals. It has been used in military poison gas mixtures and as a liquid fuel, an aquatic herbicide and biocide, and a tissue-fixative in histology.
Formaldehyde has an extremely wide range of uses related to both its solvent and germicidal properties. It is used in plastics production (e.g., urea-formaldehyde, phenol-form-aldehyde, melamine-formaldehyde resins). It is also used in the photography industry, in dyeing, in the rubber, artificial silk and explosives industries, tanning, precious metal recovery and in sewage treatment. Formaldehyde is a powerful antiseptic, germicide, fungicide and preservative used to disinfect inanimate objects, improve fastness of dyes on fabrics, and preserve and coat rubber latex. It is also a chemical intermediate, an embalming agent and a fixative of histological specimens. Paraformaldehyde is the most common commercial polymer obtained from formaldehyde and consists of a mixture of products with different degrees of polymerization. It is used in fungicides, disinfectants, bactericides and in the manufacture of adhesives.
Butyraldehyde is used in organic synthesis, mainly in the manufacture of rubber accelerators, and as a synthetic flavoring agent in foods. Isobutyraldehyde is an intermediate for rubber antioxidants and accelerators. It is used in the synthesis of amino acids and in the manufacture of perfumes, flavorings, plasticizers and gasoline additives. Crotonaldehyde is used in the manufacture of n-butyl alcohol and crotonic acid and in the preparation of surface active agents, pesticides and chemotherapeutic agents. It is a solvent for polyvinyl chloride and acts as a shortstopper in vinyl chloride polymerization. Crotonaldehyde is used in the preparation of rubber accelerators, the purification of lubricating oils, leather tanning, and as a warning agent for fuel gases and for locating breaks and leaks in pipes.
Glutaraldehhyde is an important sterilizing agent effective against all microorganisms, including viruses and spores. It is used as a chemical disinfectant for cold sterilization of equipment and instruments in the health care industry and as a tanning agent in the leather industry. It is also a component of embalming fluid and a tissue fixative. p-Dioxane is a solvent in pulping of wood and as a wetting and dispersing agent in textile processing, dye-baths, stain and printing compositions. It is used in cleaning and detergent preparations, adhesives, cosmetics, fumigants, lacquers, paints, varnishes, and paint and varnish removers.
Ketals are used in industry as solvents, plasticizers, and intermediates. They are capable of hardening natural adhesives like glue or casein. Methylal is used in ointments, perfumes, special purpose fuel, and as a solvent for adhesives and coatings. Dichloroethyl formal is used as a solvent and as an intermediate for polysulphide synthetic rubber.
Many aldehydes are volatile, flammable liquids which, at normal room temperatures, form vapours in explosive concentrations. Fire and explosion precautions, as described elsewhere in this chapter, must be most rigorous in the case of the lower members of the aldehyde family, and safeguards with respect to irritant properties must also be most extensive for the lower members and for those with an unsaturated or substituted chain.
Contact with aldehydes should be minimized by attention to plant design and handling procedure. Spillages should be avoided where possible and, where they occur, adequate water and drainage facilities should be available. For those chemicals labelled as known or suspected carcinogens, routine precautions for carcinogens, described elsewhere in this chapter, must be applied. Many of these chemicals are potent eye irritants and approved chemical eye and face protection should be mandatory in the plant area. For maintenance work, plastic face shields should also be worn. Where conditions require, suitable protective clothing, aprons, hand protection and impervious foot protection should be provided. Water showers and eye irrigation systems should be available in the plant area and, as with all protective equipment, operators must be fully trained in their use and maintenance.
Most of the aldehydes and ketals are capable of causing primary irritation of the skin, eyes and respiratory system—a tendency which is most pronounced in the lower members of a series, in members that are unsaturated in the aliphatic chain, and in the halogen-substituted members. The aldehydes can have an anaesthetic effect, but the irritant properties of some of them may force a worker to limit exposure prior to having sufficient exposure to suffer anaesthetic effects. The irritating effect on the mucous membranes may be related to the ciliostatic effect where the hairlike cilia that line the respiratory tract and provide essential clearance functions are disabled. The degree of toxicity varies greatly in this family. Some of the members of the aromatic aldehydes and certain aliphatic aldehydes are rapidly metabolized and are not associated with adverse effects and thus have been found to be safe for use in foods and as flavourings. However, other members of the family are known or suspected carcinogens and due caution must be exercised in all situations in which contact may be possible. Some are chemical mutagens and several are allergens. Other toxic effects include the ability to produce an hypnotic effect. More detailed data on specific family members are included in the text which follows and in the accompanying tables.
Acetaldehyde is a mucous membrane irritant and also has general narcotic action of the central nervous system. Low concentrations cause irritation of the eyes, nose and upper respiratory passages, as well as bronchial catarrh. Extended contact can damage the corneal epithelium. High concentrations cause headache, stupor, bronchitis and pulmonary oedema. Ingestion causes nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, narcosis and respiratory failure; death may result from damage to kidneys and fatty degeneration of the liver and heart muscle. Acetaldehyde is produced in the blood as a metabolite of ethyl alcohol, and will give rise to facial flushing, palpitations and other disagreeable symptoms. This effect is enhanced by the drug disulphiram (Antabuse), and by exposure to the industrial chemicals cyanamide and dimethylformamide.
In addition to its acute effects, acetaldehyde is a Group 2B carcinogen, that is, it has been classified as possibly carcinogenic to humans and a carcinogen in animals by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Acetaldehyde induces chromosomal aberrations and sister-chromatid exchange in a variety of test systems.
Repeated exposure to the vapours of acetaldehyde causes dermatitis and conjunctivitis. In chronic intoxication, the symptoms resemble those of chronic alcoholism, such as loss of weight, anaemia, delirium, hallucinations of sight and hearing, loss of intelligence and psychic disturbances.
Acrolein is a common atmospheric pollutant which is produced in the exhaust fumes of internal combustion engines, which contain many and varied aldehydes. Acrolein concentration is increased when diesel oil or fuel oil is used. In addition acrolein is found in tobacco smoke in considerable quantities, not only in the particulate phase of the smoke, but also, and even more, in the gaseous phase. Accompanied by other aldehydes (acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde, formaldehyde, etc.) it reaches such a concentration (50 to 150 ppm) that it seems to be among the most dangerous aldehydes in tobacco smoke. Thus acrolein represents a possible occupational and environmental hazard.
Acrolein is toxic and very irritating, and its high vapour pressure may result in the rapid formation of hazardous atmospheric concentrations. Vapours are capable of causing injury to the respiratory tract, and the eyes can be injured by both liquid and vapours. Skin contact may produce severe burns. Acrolein has excellent warning properties and severe irritation occurs at concentrations less than those expected to be acutely hazardous (its powerful lacrimatory effect in very low concentrations in the atmosphere (1 mg/m3) compels people to run away from the polluted place in search of protective devices). Consequently, exposure is most likely to result from leakage or spillage from pipes or vessels. Serious chronic effects, such as cancer, however, may not be completely avoided.
Inhalation presents the most serious hazard. It causes irritation of nose and throat, tightness of the chest and shortness of breath, nausea and vomiting. The bronchopulmonary effect is very severe; even if the victim recovers from acute exposure, there will be permanent radiological and functional damage. Animal experiments indicate that acrolein has a vesicant action, destroying respiratory tract mucous membranes to such an extent that respiratory function is fully inhibited within 2 to 8 days. Repeated skin contact may cause dermatitis, and skin sensitization has been observed.
The discovery of the mutagenic properties of acrolein is not recent. Rapaport pointed it out as long ago as 1948 in Drosophila. Research has been carried out to establish whether cancer of the lung, whose connection with the abuse of tobacco is unquestionable, can be traced to the presence of acrolein in the smoke, and whether certain forms of cancer of the digestive system that are found to have a link with the absorption of burnt cooking oil are due to the acrolein contained in the burnt oil. Recent studies have shown that acrolein is mutagenic for certain cells (Drosophila, Salmonella, algae such as Dunaliella bioculata) but not for others (yeasts such as Saccharomices cerevisiae). Where acrolein is mutagenic for a cell, ultrastructural changes can be identified in the nucleus which are reminiscent of those caused by x rays in algae. It also produces various effects on the synthesis of DNA by acting on certain enzymes.
Acrolein is very effective in inhibiting the activity of the cilia of the bronchial cells that help to keep the bronchial tree clear. This, added to its action favouring inflammation, implies a good probability that acrolein can cause chronic bronchial lesions.
Chloroacetaldehyde has very irritant properties not only with regard to mucous membranes (it is dangerous to the eyes even in the vapour phase and can cause irreversible damage), but also to the skin. It can cause burnlike injuries on contact at 40% solution, and an appreciable irritation at 0.1% solution on prolonged or repeated contact. Prevention should be based on the avoidance of any contact and the control of atmospheric concentration.
Chloral hydrate is mainly excreted in humans first as trichloroethanol and then, as time progresses, as trichloroacetic acid, which may reach up to half the dose in repeated exposure. On severe acute exposure chloral hydrate acts like a narcotic and impairs the respiratory centre.
Crotonaldehyde is a strongly irritant substance and a definite corneal burn hazard, resembling acrolein in toxicity. Some instances of sensitization in workers have been reported and some assays for mutagenicity have produced positive results.
In addition to the fact that p-dioxane is a dangerous fire hazard, it has also been classified by IARC as a Group 2B carcinogen, that is, an established animal carcinogen and possible human carcinogen. Inhalation studies in animals have demonstrated that p-dioxane vapour can cause narcosis, lung, liver and kidney damage, irritation of the mucous membrane, congestion and oedema of the lungs, behavioural changes and elevated blood counts. Large doses of p-dioxane administered in drinking water have led to the development of tumours in rats and guinea pigs. Animal experiments have also demonstrated that dioxane is rapidly absorbed through the skin producing signs of incoordination, narcosis, erythema as well as liver and kidney injury.
Experimental studies with humans have also shown eye, nose, and throat irritation at concentrations of 200 to 300 ppm. An odour threshold as low as 3 ppm has been reported, although another study resulted in an odour threshold of 170 ppm. Both animal and human studies have demonstrated that dioxane is metabolized to β-hydroxyethoxyacetic acid. An investigation in 1934 of the deaths of five men working in an artificial silk plant suggested that the signs and symptoms of dioxane poisoning included nausea and vomiting followed by diminished and finally absence of urine output. Necropsy findings included enlarged pale livers, swollen haemorrhagic kidneys and oedematous lungs and brains.
It should be noted that unlike many of the other aldehydes, the irritant warning properties of p-dioxane are considered poor.
Formaldehyde and its polymeric derivative paraformaldehyde. Formaldehyde polymerizes readily in both liquid and solid state to form the mixture of chemicals known as paraformaldehyde. This polymerization process is delayed by the presence of water and, consequently, commercial formaldehyde preparations (known as formalin or formol) are aqueous solutions containing 37 to 50% formaldehyde by weight; 10 to 15% methyl alcohol is also added to these aqueous solutions as a polymerization inhibitor. Formaldehyde is toxic by ingestion and inhalation and it may also cause skin lesions. It is metabolized into formic acid. The toxicity of polymerized formaldehyde is potentially similar to that of the monomer since heating produces depolymerization.
Exposure to formaldehyde is associated with both acute and chronic effects. Formaldehyde is a proven animal carcinogen and has been classed as a 1B probable human carcinogen by IARC. Consequently, when working with formaldehyde, appropriate precautions for carcinogens must be taken.
Exposure to low atmospheric concentrations of formaldehyde causes irritation, especially of the eyes and respiratory tract. Due to the solubility of formaldehyde in water, the irritant effect is limited to the initial section of the respiratory tract. A concentration of 2 to 3 ppm causes slight formication of the eyes, nose and pharynx; at 4 to 5 ppm, discomfort rapidly increases; 10 ppm is tolerated with difficulty even briefly; between 10 and 20 ppm, there is severe difficulty in breathing, burning of the eyes, nose and trachea, intense lacrimation and severe cough. Exposure to 50 to 100 ppm produces a feeling of restricted chest, headache, palpitations and, in extreme cases, death due to oedema or spasm of the glottis. Eye burns can also be produced.
Formaldehyde reacts readily with tissue proteins and promotes allergic reactions, including contact dermatitis, which has also arisen from contact with formaldehyde-treated clothing. Asthmatic symptoms may occur due to allergic sensitivity to formaldehyde, even at very low concentrations. Kidney injury may occur in excessive and repeated exposure. There have been reports of both inflammatory and allergic dermatitis, including nail dystrophy due to direct contact with solutions, solids or resins containing free formaldehyde. Inflammation follows even after short-term contact with large quantities of formaldehyde. Once sensitized, the allergic response may follow contact with only very small quantities.
Formaldehyde reacts with hydrogen chloride, and it was reported that such reaction in humid air could yield a non-negligible amount of bis(chloromethyl) ether, BCME, a dangerous carcinogen. Further investigations have shown that at ambient temperature and humidity, even at very high concentrations, formaldehyde and hydrogen chloride do not form bis-(chloromethyl) ether at the detection limit of 0.1 ppb. However, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended that formaldehyde be treated as a potential occupational carcinogen because it has shown mutagenic activity in several test systems and has induced nasal cancer in rats and mice, particularly in the presence of hydrochloric acid vapours.
Glutaraldehyde is a relatively weak allergen which can cause allergic contact dermatitis and the combination of irritant and allergen properties are suggestive of the possibility of respiratory system allergies as well. It is a relatively strong irritant to the skin and the eyes.
Glycidaldehyde is a highly reactive chemical which has been classified by IARC as a group 2B possible human carcinogen and established animal carcinogen. Thus precautions appropriate for the handling of carcinogens must be exercised with this chemical.
Metaldehyde, if ingested, may cause nausea, severe vomiting, abdominal pain, muscular rigidity, convulsions, coma and death from respiratory failure. Ingestion of paraldehyde ordinarily induces sleep without depression of respiration, although deaths occasionally occur from respiratory and circulatory failure after high doses or more. Methylal can produce liver and kidney impairment and acts as a lung irritant on acute exposure.
Aldehydes and ketals tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
This article discusses ammonia, sodium, potassium, calcium and lithium, and their compounds. With the exception of ammonia, these are the most common alkali and alkaline earth metals.
Ammonia is an important source of various nitrogen-containing compounds. An enormous quantity of ammonia is used in the production of ammonium sulphate and ammonium nitrate, which are used as fertilizers. Ammonia is further used for oxidation into nitric acid, for the production of synthetic urea and soda, and for the preparation of water solutions used in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. It is employed in the explosives industry, in medicine and in agriculture. In refrigeration, ammonia is used to lower temperatures below the freezing point and for the manufacture of synthetic ice.
Ammonium hydroxide is employed in the textile, rubber, pharmaceutical, ceramics, photography, detergent and food industries. It is also used in extracting such metals as copper, nickel and molybdenum from their ores. Ammonium hydroxide is useful for removing stains and bleaching. It is a household cleansing agent as well as a solvent for casein in the pulp and paper industry. Diammonium phosphate is used for fireproofing textiles, paper and wood products. It is found in fertilizers and in flux for soldering metals. Ammonium chloride is used in flux for coating sheet iron with zinc, in safety explosives, medicine, and in cement for iron pipes. In addition, it is utilized in tinning, dyeing, electroplating and tanning.
Calcium is the fifth most abundant element and the third most abundant metal; it is widespread in nature as calcium carbonate (limestone and marble), calcium sulphate (gypsum), calcium fluoride (fluorspar) and calcium phosphate (apatite). Calcium minerals are quarried or mined; the metallic calcium is obtained by the electrolysis of molten calcium chloride or fluoride. Metallic calcium is used in the production of uranium and thorium and in the electronics industry. It serves as a deoxidizer for copper, beryllium and steel, and as a hardener for lead bearings. In addition, calcium is an industrial catalyst for polyester fibres.
Calcium chloride is obtained as a waste product in the Solvay ammonia-soda process. It is used as a pavement de-icer, a refrigerant, and as a drying agent in air-conditioning systems. Calcium chloride is utilized in the production of barium chloride, metallic calcium and various dyes. It is also used to prevent dust formation during road construction, to accelerate concrete curing times, and to inhibit spontaneous combustion of coal in coal mines. Calcium nitrate is used in agriculture as a fertilizer and in match manufacture as an oxidizing agent. It is also found in the explosives and pyrotechnics industries. Calcium sulphite is used as a reducing agent in the production of cellulose. Calcium carbide is used for the industrial production of acetylene and in the manufacture of calcium cyanamide. It is employed in the pyrotechnics industry and in acetylene generators for acetylene lamps. Calcium carbide is also used for oxyacetylene welding and cutting.
Lime is a general term for the products of calcined limestone—for example, calcium oxide and calcium hydroxide. Calcium oxide is used as a refractory material, as a flux in steelmaking, a binding agent in the building industry and as the raw material for chlorinated lime bleaching powder. It is employed in the pulp and paper, sugar refining, agriculture and leather tanning industries. Calcium hydroxide is used in building and civil engineering for mortars, plasters and cements. It is used for soil treatment, dehairing hides and fireproofing. Calcium hydroxide also finds use in lubricants and in the pulp and paper industry.
Lithium is used as a “getter” in vacuum tubes, a constituent of solder and brazing alloys, a coolant or heat exchanger in reactors, and as a catalyst in the manufacture of synthetic rubber and lubricants. It finds use in the manufacture of catalysts for polyolefin plastics and in the metal and ceramics industries. Lithium is also used in special glasses and in fuels for aircraft and missiles. Lithium chloride is used in the manufacture of mineral waters and for soldering aluminium. It is employed in the pyrotechnics industry and in medicine as an antidepressant. Lithium carbonate is utilized in the production of glazes on ceramic and electrical porcelain and for the coating of arc-welding electrodes. It is found in luminescent paints, varnishes and dyes. Lithium carbonate is also used in medicine as a mood-stabilizing drug and antidepressant. Lithium hydride is a source of hydrogen and a nuclear shielding material.
Potassium is used in the synthesis of inorganic potassium compounds. It is found in agriculture as a component of fertilizers. Potassium is also employed in sodium-potassium alloy for heat transfer in nuclear reactor systems and in high-reading thermometers.
Potassium hydroxide is used for the manufacture of liquid soap, for absorbing carbon dioxide, mercerizing cotton, and for the production of other potassium compounds. It finds use in electroplating, in lithography and as a mordant for wood. Potassium hydroxide is also used in paint and varnish removers and in printing inks.
Other potassium compounds include potassium bromate, potassium chlorate, potassium nitrate, potassium perchlorate and potassium permanganate. They are used in the pyrotechnics, food and explosives industries, and they serve as oxidizing agents. Potassium chlorate is a component of match tips, a bleaching agent and a dyeing agent for furs, cotton and wool. It is also used in the dye-stuffs and pulp and paper industries. Potassium chlorate is used in the manufacture of explosives, matches, pyrotechnics and dyes.
Potassium bromate is a dough conditioner, a food additive, an oxidizing agent and a permanent wave compound. Potassium nitrate is used in fireworks, fluxes, gunpowder and in the glass, match, tobacco and ceramics industries. It is also used for pickling meats and for impregnating candle wicks. Potassium nitrate acts as a fertilizer in agriculture and as an oxidizer in solid rocket propellants. Potassium perchlorate is used in the explosives, pyrotechnics and photography industries. It serves as an inflating agent in automobile safety air bags. Potassium permanganate is used as an oxidizing agent, a disinfectant and a bleaching agent in the leather, metal and textile industries. It is also employed in metal cleaning, separation and purification in mining. In addition, potassium permanganate is a tanning agent in the leather industry.
Sodium is used in the manufacture of sodium compounds and in organic syntheses. It serves as a reducing agent for metals and as a coolant in nuclear reactors. Sodium is also found in sodium lamps and in electric power cable. Sodium chlorate is an oxidizing agent in the dye-stuffs industry and an oxidizing and bleaching agent in the pulp and paper industry. It is used for dyeing and printing fabrics, tanning and finishing leather, and uranium processing. It is also employed as an herbicide and a rocket fuel oxidant. Sodium chlorate finds additional uses in the explosives, match and pharmaceutical industries.
Sodium hydroxide is used in the rayon, mercerized cotton, soap, paper, explosives, dye-stuffs and chemical industries. It is also used in metal cleaning, electrolytic extraction of zinc, tin plating, laundering and bleaching. Trisodium phosphate finds use in photographic developers, in detergent mixtures and in the paper industry. It it used for clarifying sugar, removing boiler scale, softening water, laundering, and for tanning leather. Trisodium phosphate is also a water-treatment agent and an emulsifier in processed cheese. Disodium phosphate is used in fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, ceramics and detergents. It is used for weighting silk, dyeing and printing in the textile industry, and for fireproofing wood and paper. Disodium phosphate is also a food additive and a tanning agent. Sodium hypochlorite is a household and laundry bleaching agent, and a bleaching agent in the paper, pulp and textile industries. It is employed as a disinfectant for glass, ceramics and water as well as a sanitizer in swimming pools. Sodium chloride is used for metalworking, curing hides, highway de-icing, and preserving food. It also finds use in the photography, chemical, ceramic and soap industries, and in nuclear reactors.
The salts of carbonic acid (H2CO3), or carbonates, are widespread in nature as minerals. They are used in the construction, glass, ceramics, agriculture and chemical industries. Ammonium bicarbonate is used in the plastics, ceramics, dye-stuffs and textile industries. It finds use as a blowing agent for foam rubber and as a leavening agent in the production of baked goods. Ammonium bicarbonate is also used in fertilizers and in fire extinguishers. Calcium carbonate is used primarily as a pigment and is employed in the paint, rubber, plastics, paper, cosmetics, match and pencil industries. Calcium carbonate also finds use in the manufacture of Portland cement, foods, polishes, ceramics, inks and insecticides. Sodium carbonate is widely used in the manufacture of glass, caustic soda, sodium bicarbonate, aluminium, detergents, salts and paints. It is utilized for the desulphurization of pig iron and for the purification of petroleum. Sodium bicarbonate is used in the confectionery, pharmaceutical, non-alcoholic beverage, leather and rubber industries, and for the manufacture of fire extinguishers and mineral waters. Potassium carbonate is widely used in potash fertilizers and in the textile industry for dyeing wool. It also finds use in the glass, soap and pharmaceutical industries.
Alkalis are caustic substances which dissolve in water to form a solution with a pH substantially higher than 7. These include ammonia; ammonium hydroxide; calcium hydroxide and oxide; potassium; potassium hydroxide and carbonate; sodium; sodium carbonate, hydroxide, peroxide and silicates; and trisodium phosphate.
In general, the alkalis, whether in solid form or concentrated liquid solution, are more destructive to tissues than most acids. The free caustic dusts, mists and sprays may cause irritation of the eyes and respiratory tract, and lesions of the nasal septum. Strong alkalis combine with tissue to form albuminates, and with natural fats to form soaps. They gelatinize tissue to form soluble compounds which may result in deep and painful destruction. Potassium and sodium hydroxide are the most active materials in this group. Even dilute solutions of the stronger alkalis tend to soften the epidermis and emulsify or dissolve the skin fats. First exposures to atmospheres slightly contaminated with alkalis may be irritating, but this irritation soon becomes less noticeable. Workers often work in such atmospheres without showing any effect, while this exposure will cause coughing and painful throat and nasal irritation in unaccustomed persons. The greatest hazard associated with these materials is the splashing or splattering of particles or solutions of the stronger alkalis into the eyes.
Potassium hydroxide and sodium hydroxide. These compounds are very dangerous to the eyes, both in liquid and solid form. As strong alkalis, they destroy tissues and cause severe chemical burns. Inhalation of dusts or mists of these materials can cause serious injury to the entire respiratory tract, and ingestion can severely injure the digestive system. Even though they are not flammable and will not support combustion, much heat is evolved when the solid material is dissolved in water. Therefore, cold water must be used for this purpose; otherwise the solution may boil and splatter corrosive liquid over a wide area.
Carbonates and bicarbonates. The principal carbonates are: calcium carbonate (CaCO3), magnesite (MgCO3), soda ash (NaCO3), sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) and potash (K2CO3). The normal carbonates (with the anion CO3) and the acid or bicarbonates (with the anion HCO3) are the most important compounds. All bicarbonates are water-soluble; of the normal carbonates only the salts of alkaline metals are soluble. Anhydrous carbonates decompose when being heated before reaching the melting point. Carbonate solutions give rise to alkaline reactions because of the considerable hydrolysis involved. The bicarbonates are converted to normal carbonates by heating:
2 NaHCO3 = Na2CO3 + H2O + CO2
The normal carbonates are decomposed by strong acids (H2SO4, HCl) and set free CO2.
The sodium carbonates occur in the following forms: soda ash—anhydrous sodium carbonate (Na2CO3); crystallized soda— sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3); and sodium carbonate decahydrate (Na2CO3·10 H2O).
Alkaline carbonates may cause harmful irritation of the skin, the conjunctivae and the upper airways during various industrial operations (handling and storage, processing). Workers who load and unload bagged carbonates may present cherry-sized necrotic skin portions on their arms and shoulders. Rather deep ulcerated pitting is sometimes observed after the black-brown scabs have fallen off. Prolonged contact with soda solutions may cause eczema, dermatitis and ulceration.
Calcium and compounds. Calcium is a well-known essential constituent of the human body, and its metabolism, alone or in association with phosphorus, has been widely studied with special reference to the musculoskeletal system and cellular membranes. Several conditions may lead to calcium losses such as immobilization, gastrointestinal disturbances, low temperature, weightlessness in space flights and so on. The absorption of calcium from the work environment by inhalation of calcium compounds dust does not increase significantly the calcium daily intake from vegetables and other food (usually 0.5 g). On the other hand, metallic calcium has alkaline properties, and it reacts with moisture, causing eye and skin burns. Exposed to air it may present an explosion hazard.
Calcium carbide. Calcium carbide exerts a pronounced irritant effect due to the formation of calcium hydroxide upon reaction with moist air or sweat. Dry carbide in contact with skin may cause dermatitis. Contact with moist skin and mucous membranes leads to ulceration and scarring. Calcium carbide is particularly hazardous to the eyes. A peculiar type of melanoderma with strong hyperpigmentation and numerous telangiectases is often observed. Burns caused by hot calcium carbide are common. The tissues are generally damaged in depths of 1 to 5 mm; the burns evolve very slowly, are difficult to treat, and often require excision. Injured workers may resume work only after the burnt skin surface is completely scarred. Persons exposed to calcium carbide frequently suffer from cheilitis characterized by dryness, swelling and hyperaemia of the lips, intense desquamation, and deep radial fissures; erosive lesions with a tendency to suppuration can be observed in the mouth angles. Workers with a long professional history often suffer from nail lesions—that is, occupational onychia and paronychia. Eye lesions with pronounced hyperaemia of the lids and conjunctiva, often accompanied by mucopurulent secretions, are also observed. In heavy cases the sensitivity of the conjunctiva and cornea is strongly reduced. While the keratitis and keratoconjunctivitis evolve first without symptoms, they may later degenerate into corneal opacities.
In calcium carbide production, impurities may produce additional hazards. Calcium carbide contaminated with calcium phosphate or calcium arsenate may, when moistened, give off phosphine or arsine, both of which are extremely toxic. Calcium carbide itself, when exposed to damp air, gives off acetylene, which is a moderate anaesthetic and asphyxiant, and a considerable fire and explosion hazard.
Calcium chloride has a powerful irritant action on the skin and mucous membranes, and cases have been reported, amongst workers packing dry calcium chloride, of irritation accompanied by erythema and peeling of facial skin, lacrimation, eye discharge, burning sensation and pain in the nasal cavities, occasional nose bleeding and tickling in the throat. Cases of perforation of the nasal septum have also been reported.
Calcium nitrate has an irritating and cauterizing action on skin and mucous membranes. It is a powerful oxidizing agent and presents a dangerous fire and explosion hazard.
Calcium sulphite. Cases of occupational calcium sulphite poisoning do not appear to have been reported. Accidental ingestion of a few grams may produce repeated vomiting, violent diarrhoea, circulatory disorders and methaemoglobinaemia.
Ammonia is present in small amounts in the air, water, earth, and particularly in decomposing organic matter. It is the product of normal human, animal and plant metabolism. Muscular effort and excitement of the nervous system result in the formation of an increased amount of ammonia, an accumulation of which in the tissues would result in poisoning. Endogenous formation of ammonia increases also in the course of many diseases. Through vital processes it is combined and excreted from the organism, mainly via urine and sweat, in the form of ammonium sulphate and urea. Ammonia is also of primary importance in the nitrogen metabolism of plants.
Ammonia is lightly reactive, easily undergoing oxidation, substitution (of hydrogen atoms) and additional reactions. It burns in air or in hydrogen to form nitrogen. An example of substitution would be the formation of amides of alkaline and alkaline-earth metals. As a result of addition it forms ammoniates (e.g., CaCl2·8NH3, AgCl3NH3) and other compounds. When ammonia dissolves in water, it forms ammonium hydroxide (NH4OH), which is a weak base and dissociates as follows:
NH4OH → NH4+ + OH-
The radical NH4+ does not exist in free form since it decomposes into ammonia and hydrogen when an attempt is made to isolate it.
Ammonia poisoning may occur in the production of ammonia and in the manufacture of nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and sulphate, liquid fertilizers (ammoniates), urea and soda, in refrigeration, synthetic ice factories, cotton printing mills, fibre dyeing, electroplating processes, organic synthesis, heat treatment of metals (nitriding), chemical laboratories, and in a number of other processes. It is formed and emitted into the air during the processing of guano, in the purification of refuse, in sugar refineries and tanneries, and it is present in unpurified acetylene.
Industrial poisoning is usually acute, while chronic poisoning, although possible, is less common. The irritant effect of ammonia is felt especially in the upper respiratory tract, and in large concentrations it affects the central nervous system, causing spasms. Irritation of the upper respiratory tract occurs at concentrations of above 100 mg/m3, while the maximum tolerable concentration in 1 hour is between 210 and 350 mg/m3. Splashes of ammonia water into the eyes are particularly dangerous. The rapid penetration of ammonia into the ocular tissue may result in perforation of the cornea and even in death of the eyeball. Particular health hazards exist in each section of an ammonia plant. In the sections where the gas is generated, converted (oxidation of CO to CO2), compressed and purified, the main problem is the emission of carbon monoxide and hydrogen sulphide. Considerable quantities of ammonia may escape during its synthesis. Escaping ammonia in the atmosphere may reach explosive limits.
Chlorates and perchlorates
Chlorates and perchlorates are the salts of chloric acid (HClO3) and perchloric acid (HClO4 ). They are strong supporters of combustion, and their main hazard is associated with this property. The potassium and sodium salts are typical of the group and are those most commonly used in industry.
Fire and explosion hazards. Chlorates are powerful oxidizing agents, and the main dangers are those of fire and explosion. They are not themselves explosive but they form flammable or explosive mixtures with organic matter, sulphur, sulphides, powdered metals and ammonium compounds. Cloth, leather, wood and paper are extremely flammable when impregnated by these chlorates.
Perchlorates are also very strong oxidizing agents. Heavy metal salts of perchloric acid are explosive.
Health hazards. Chlorates are harmful if absorbed by ingestion or by inhalation of the dust, which can provoke sore throat, coughing, methaemoglobinaemia with bluish skin, dizziness and faintness, and anaemia. In case of large absorption of sodium chlorate an increased sodium content in the serum will be seen.
Perchlorates may enter the body either by inhalation as dust or by ingestion. They are irritant to skin, eyes and mucous membranes. They cause haemolytic anaemia with methaemoglobinaemia, Heinz bodies in the red cells, and liver and kidney injuries.
Alkaline materials tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
The amides are a class of organic compounds which can be regarded as having been derived from either acids or amines. For example, the simple aliphatic amide acetamide (CH3–CO–NH2) is related to acetic acid in the sense that the –OH group of acetic acid is replaced by an –NH2 group. Conversely, acetamide can be regarded as being derived from ammonia by replacement of one ammonia hydrogen by an acyl group. Amides can be derived not only from aliphatic or aromatic carboxylic acids but also from other types of acids—for example, sulphur- and phosphorus-containing acids.
The term substituted amides may be used to describe those amides having one or both hydrogens on the nitrogen replaced by other groups—for example, N,N-dimethylacetamide. This compound could also be regarded as an amine, acetyl dimethyl amine.
Amides are generally quite neutral in reaction compared with the acid or amine from which they are derived, and they are occasionally somewhat resistant to hydrolysis. The simple amides of aliphatic carboxylic acids (except formamide) are solids at room temperature, while the substituted aliphatic carboxylic acid amides may be liquids with relatively high boiling points. The amides of aromatic carboxylic or sulphonic acids are usually solids. A wide variety of methods are available for the synthesis of amides.
The unsubstituted aliphatic carboxylic acid amides have wide use as intermediates, stabilizers, release agents for plastics, films, surfactants and soldering fluxes. The substituted amides such as dimethylformamide and dimethylacetamide have powerful solvent properties.
Dimethylformamide is primarily used as a solvent in organic synthesis. It is also used in the preparation of synthetic fibres. It is a selective medium for the extraction of aromatics from crude oil and a solvent for dyes. Both dimethylformamide and dimethylacetamide are ingredients in paint removers. Dimethylacetamide is also used as a solvent for plastics, resins and gums, and in many organic reactions.
Acetamide is used for denaturing alcohol and as a solvent for many organic compounds, as a plasticizer, and an additive in paper. It is also found in lacquers, explosives and soldering flux. Formamide is a softener for paper and glues, and a solvent in the the plastics and pharmaceutical industries.
Some unsaturated aliphatic amides, such as acrylamide, are reactive monomers used in polymer synthesis. Acrylamide is also used in the synthesis of dyes, adhesives, paper and textile sizing, permanent press fabrics, and sewage and waste treatment. It is utilized in the metal industry for ore processing, and in civil engineering for the construction of dam foundations and tunnels. The polyacrylamides find extensive use as flocculants in water and sewage treatment, and as strengthening agents during paper manufacture in the paper and pulp industry. Aromatic amide compounds form important dye and medicinal intermediates. Some have insect repellent properties.
The wide variety of possible chemical structures of amides is reflected in the diversity of their biological effects. Some appear entirely innocuous—for example, the longer-chain simple fatty acid amides such as stearic or oleic acid amides. On the other hand, several of the members of this family are classified as Group 2A (probable human carcinogens) or Group 2B (possible human carcinogens) by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Neurologic effects have been noted in humans and experimental animals with acrylamide. Dimethylformamide and dimethylacetamide have produced liver injury in animals, and formamide and monomethylformamide have been shown experimentally to be teratogens.
Although a considerable amount of information is available on the metabolism of various amides, the nature of their toxic effects has not yet been explained on a molecular or cellular basis. Many simple amides are probably hydrolyzed by non-specific amidases in the liver and the acid produced excreted or metabolized by normal mechanisms.
Some aromatic amides—for example, N-phenylacetamide (acetanilide)—are hydroxylated on the aromatic ring and then conjugated and excreted. The ability of a number of amides to penetrate the intact skin is especially important in considering safety precautions.
Acrylamide was initially made in Germany in 1893. Practical use of this compound had to wait until the early 1950s, when commercial manufacturing processes became available. This development occurred primarily in the United States. By the mid-1950s it was recognized that workers exposed to acrylamide developed characteristic neurologic changes primarily characterized by both postural and motor difficulties. Reported findings included tingling of the fingers, tenderness to touch, coldness of the extremities, excessive sweating of the hands and feet, a characteristic bluish-red discolouration of the skin of the extremities, and a tendency toward peeling of the skin of the fingers and hands. These symptoms were accompanied by weakness of the hands and feet which led to difficulty in walking, climbing stairs and so on. Recovery generally occurs with cessation of exposure. The time for recovery varies from a few weeks to as long as 1 year.
Neurologic examination of individuals suffering from acrylamide intoxication shows a rather typical peripheral neuropathy with weakness or absence of tendon reflexes, a positive Romberg test, a loss of position sense, a diminution or loss of vibration sense, ataxia, and atrophy of the muscles of the extremities.
Following recognition of the symptom complex associated with acrylamide exposure, animal studies were carried out in an attempt to document these changes. It was found that a variety of animal species including rat, cat and baboon were capable of developing peripheral neuropathy with disturbance of gait, disturbance of balance and a loss of position sense. Histopathologic examination revealed a degeneration of the axons and myelin sheaths. The nerves with the largest and longest axons were most commonly involved. There did not appear to be involvement of the nerve cell bodies.
Several theories have been advanced as to why these changes occur. One of these has to do with possible interference with the metabolism of the nerve cell body itself. Another theory postulates interference with the intracellular transport system of the nerve cell. An explanation is that there is a local toxic effect on the entire axon, which is felt to be more vulnerable to the action of acrylamide than is the cell body. Studies of the changes taking place within the axons and myelin sheaths have resulted in a description of the process as a drying back phenomenon. This term is used to describe more accurately the progression of changes observed in the peripheral nerves.
While the described symptoms and signs of the characteristic peripheral neuropathy associated with acrylamide exposure are widely recognized from exposure in industry and from animal studies, it appears in humans that, when acrylamide has been ingested as a contaminant in drinking water, the symptoms and signs are of involvement of the central nervous system. In these instances drowsiness, disturbance of balance, and mental changes characterized by confusion, memory loss and hallucinations were paramount. Peripheral neurological changes did not appear until later.
Skin penetration has been demonstrated in rabbits, and this may have been a principal route of absorption in those cases reported from industrial exposures to acrylamide monomer. It is felt that the hazard from inhalation would be primarily from exposure to aerosolized material.
The good solvent action of dimethylformamide results in drying and defatting of the skin on contact, with resultant itching and scaling. Some complaints of eye irritation have resulted from vapour exposure in industry. Complaints by exposed workers have included nausea, vomiting and anorexia. Intolerance to alcoholic beverages after exposure to dimethylformamide has been reported.
Animal studies with dimethylformamide have shown experimental evidence of liver and kidney damage in rats, rabbits and cats. These effects have been seen from both intraperitoneal administration and inhalation studies. Dogs exposed to high concentrations of the vapour exhibited polycythemia, decrease of the pulse rate, and a decline in systolic pressure, and showed histologic evidence of degenerative changes in the myocardium.
In humans this compound is capable of being readily absorbed through the skin, and repeated exposures can lead to cumulative effects. In addition, like dimethylacetamide, it may facilitate the percutaneous absorption of substances dissolved in it.
It should be mentioned that dimethylformamide will readily penetrate both natural and neoprene rubber gloves, so that prolonged use of such gloves is inadvisable. Polyethylene provides better protection; however, any gloves used with this solvent should be washed after each contact and discarded frequently.
Dimethylacetamide has been studied in animals and has been shown to exhibit its principal toxic action in the liver on repeated or continued excessive exposure. Skin contact may cause the absorption of dangerous quantities of the compound.
Acetamide and thioacetamide are prepared by heating ammonium acetate and aluminium sulphide, and are used in the laboratory as analytical reagents. Both compounds have been shown to produce hepatomas in rats on prolonged dietary feeding. Thioacetamide is more potent in this respect, is carcinogenic also to mice, and can also induce bile duct tumours in rats. While human data on these chemicals are not available, the extent of the experimental animal data is such that both of these substances are now considered possible human carcinogens. (Thioacetamide can also be found in the article “Sulphur compounds, organic” in this chapter.) Dimethylformamide is also classified as a Group 2B possible human carcinogen by IARC.
Acrylamide is classified as a probable human carcinogen (Group 2A) by IARC. This decision is supported by the results of bioassays in mice by several routes and yielding multiple sites of cancer, by data on genotoxicity, and by acrylamide’s ability to form adducts. The chemical structure of acrylamides also supports the probability that the chemical is a human carcinogen.
Safety and Health Measures
The potential toxic properties of any amide should be carefully considered before use or exposure commences. Owing to the general tendency of amides (especially those of lower molecular weight) to be absorbed percutaneously, skin contact should be prevented. Inhalation of dusts or vapours should be controlled. It is desirable that persons with exposure to amides be under regular medical observation with particular reference to the functioning of the nervous system and liver. The possible or probable cancer status of some these chemicals dictates that extremely prudent working conditions are needed.
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3- Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Aliphatic amine compounds are formed when one or more hydrogen atoms in ammonia (NH3) are replaced by one, two or three alkyl or alkanol radicals. The lower aliphatic amines are gases like ammonia and freely soluble in water, but the higher homologues are insoluble in water. All the aliphatic amines are basic in solution and form salts. The salts are odourless, non-volatile solids freely soluble in water.
According to the number of hydrogens substituted, the amines may be primary (NH2R), secondary (NHR2) or tertiary (NR3).
Aliphatic amines are found in the chemical, pharmaceutical, rubber, plastics, dye-stuff, textile, cosmetics and metal industries. These chemicals are used as intermediates, solvents, rubber accelerators, catalysts, emulsifiers, synthetic cutting fluids, corrosion inhibitors and flotation agents. Several are used in the manufacture of herbicides, pesticides and dyes. In the photography industry, triethylamine and methylamine are used as accelerators for developers. Diethylamine is a corrosion inhibitor in the metal industries and a solvent in the petroleum industry. In the tanning and leather industries, hexamethylenetetramine is used as a tanning preservative; methylamine, ethanolamine and diisopropanolamine are softening agents for hides and leather.
2-Dimethylaminoethanol functions as a control agent for the acidity of boiler water treatment. Triethanolamine, isopropanolamime, cyclohexylamine and dicyclohexylamine are used in dry-cleaning soaps. Triethanolamine is used extensively in industry for the manufacture of surface-active agents, waxes, polishes, herbicides and cutting oils. It is also used to recover hydrogen sulphide from sour natural gas and sour crude petroleum. Ethanolamine extracts both carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide from natural gas.
Ethylamine acts as a stabilizer for rubber latex and as a dye intermediate, while butylamine is a pesticide and a strong alkaline liquid used in the rubber, pharmaceutical and dye-stuff industries. Ethylenediamine is another strongly alkaline liquid used in the preparation of dyes, rubber accelerators, fungicides, synthetic waxes, pharmaceuticals, resins, insecticides and asphalt wetting agents. Dimethylamine and isobutanolamine find use in the rubber industry as vulcanization accelerators. Dimethylamine is also used in the tanning industry and in the manufacture of detergent soaps.
Ethylenimine is an important compound found in the paper, textile, petroleum, lacquer and varnish, cosmetics and photography industries. Diethanolamine is a scrubbing agent for gases, a chemical intermediate, and an emulsifier in agricultural chemicals, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Other widely used emulsifying agents include isobutanolamine, isopropanolamine and cyclohexylamine.
Since the amines are bases and may form strongly alkaline solutions, they can be damaging if splashed in the eye or if allowed to contaminate the skin. Otherwise they have no specific toxic properties, and the lower aliphatic amines are normal constituents of body tissues, so that they occur in a large number of foods, particularly fish, to which they impart a characteristic odour. One area of concern at present is the possibility that some aliphatic amines may react with nitrate or nitrite in vivo to form nitroso compounds, many of which are known to be potent carcinogens in animals, as is discussed more fully in the accompanying box.
Allylamine. The vapour is intensely irritating. In animals there is evidence of effects on the heart and circulatory system. Myocardial and vascular legions have been observed. Some of allylamine’s toxicity has been attributed to the formation of acrolein in vivo. There is also a definite risk of explosion over a wide range of concentrations in air.
Butylamine is the most important isomer commercially. Its vapour has been observed to have severe effects on the central nervous system (CNS) of animals exposed to it. It has intense effects on humans. It is extremely irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It also affects the CNS and can cause depression and even unconsciousness. Chest pains and severe coughing have also been reported. Butylamine is readily absorbed through the skin. Any absorbed butylamine is readily metabolized.
A main toxic effect of cyclohexylamine is to act as an irritant. It may damage and sensitize the skin. Cyclohexylamine is also a weak methaemoglobin inducer. This amine is also a principal metabolite of cyclamate.
Diethanolamine is irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Exposure can lead to nausea and vomiting.
Dimethylamine vapours are both flammable and irritating. The solutions which it forms are strongly alkaline.
Ethanolamine may be weakly irritating but is not associated with major toxic effects on humans.
Ethylamine can cause eye irritation. Corneal damage may occur in those exposed to the vapour. The compound is excreted unchanged by humans.
Ethylenediamine damages the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. Sensitization may follow vapour exposure.
Methylamine a stronger base than ammonia, and the vapour is irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. Cases of sensitization (bronchial) have been reported. The warning properties of this chemical are not good, since olfactory fatigue can set in.
Propylamine vapour may be injurious to the eyes and respiratory tract. Transitory visual disturbances have been reported.
Triethanolamine is of low human toxicity and is commonly added to many cosmetics and similar products.
Aliphatic amines tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
The aromatic amino compounds are a class of chemicals derived from aromatic hydrocarbons, such as benzene, toluene, naphthalene, anthracene and diphenyl by the replacement of at least one hydrogen atom by an amino –NH2 group. A compound with a free amino group is described as a primary amine. When one of the hydrogen atoms of the –NH2 group is replaced by an alkyl or aryl group, the resultant compound is a secondary amine; when both hydrogen atoms are replaced, a tertiary amine results. The hydrocarbon may have one amino group or two, more rarely three. It is thus possible to produce a considerable range of compounds and, in effect, the aromatic amines constitute a large class of chemicals of great technical and commercial value.
Aniline is the simplest aromatic amino compound, consisting of one –NH2 group attached to a benzene ring and its derivatives are most widely used in industry. Other common single-ring compounds include dimethylaniline and diethylaniline, the chloroanilines, nitroanilines, toluidines, the chlorotoluidines, the phenylenediamines and acetanilide. Benzidine, o-tolidine, o-dianisidine, 3,3'-dichlorobenzidine and 4-aminodiphenyl are the most important conjoined ring compounds from the point of view of occupational health. Of compounds with ring structures, the naphthylamines and aminoanthracenes have attracted much attention because of problems of carcinogenicity. Strict precautions necessary for handling carcinogens apply to many members of this family.
Azo and diazo dyes
Azo dye is a comprehensive term applied to a group of dyestuffs that carry the azo (–N=N–) group in the molecular structure. The group may be divided into subgroups of monoazo, diazo and triazo dye and further in accordance with the number of the azo group in the molecule. From a toxicological perspective, it is important to take into account that the commercial grade dyestuffs usually contain impurities up to 20% or even higher. The composition and quantity of the impurities are variable depending on several factors such as the purity of the starting materials for the synthesis, the process of synthesis employed and the requirements of the users.
Azos dyes are synthesized by diazotization or tetrazotization of aromatic monoamine or aromatic diamine compounds with sodium nitrite in the HCl medium, followed by coupling with dye intermediates such as various aromatic compounds or heterocyclic compounds. When the coupling component carries an amino group, it is possible to produce long-chained polyazo dye by the repetition of diazotization and coupling. The generalized structural formulae for the first three members of the family are:
R–N=N–R' monoazo dye
R–N=N–R'–N=N–R" diazo dye
R–N=N–R'–N=N–R"–N=N–R"' triazo dye
Tetrazotization of benzidine and coupling with naphthionic acid yields the very popular dye Congo Red.
Aromatic amino compounds are primarily used as intermediates in the manufacture of dyes and pigments. The largest class of dyestuffs is that of the azo colours, which are made by diazotization, a process by which a primary aromatic amine reacts with nitrous acid in the presence of excess mineral acid to produce a diazo (–N=N–) compound; this compound is subsequently coupled with a phenol or an amine. Another important class of dyestuffs, the triphenylmethane colours, is also manufactured from aromatic amines. In addition to serving as chemical intermediates in the dyestuffs industry, several compounds are employed as dyes or intermediates in the pharmaceutical, fur, hairdressing, textile and photography industries.
o-Aminophenol is used for dyeing furs and hair. It is also a developer in the photography industry and an intermediate for pharmaceuticals. p-Aminophenol is used in dyeing textiles, hair, furs and feathers. It finds use in photographic developers, pharmaceuticals, antioxidants and oil additives. 2,4-Diaminoanisole provides an oxidation base for dyeing fur. o-Toluidine, p-phenylenediamine, diphenylamine and N-phenyl-2-naphthylamine find additional uses as antioxidants in the rubber industry.
Diphenylamine is also employed in the pharmaceutical and explosives industries and as a pesticide. N-Phenyl-2-naphthylamine serves as a vulcanization accelerator, a stabilizer for silicone enamels and a lubricant. It is a component of rocket fuels, surgical plaster, tin-electroplating baths and dyes. 2,4-Diaminotoluene and 4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane are useful intermediates in the manufacture of isocyanates, basic raw materials for the production of polyurethanes.
The major use of benzidine is in the manufacture of dyestuffs. It is tetrazotized and coupled with other intermediates to form colours. Its use in the rubber industry has been abandoned. Auramine is used in printing inks and as an antiseptic and a fungicide.
o-Phenylenediamine is a photographic developing agent and a hair dye component while p-phenylenediamine is used as a photographic chemical and a dyeing agent for fur and hair. However, p-phenylenediamine has been banned for use as an oxidation dye for hair in some countries. p-Phenylenediamine is also a vulcanization accelerator, a component of gasoline antioxidants. m-Phenylenediamine has numerous functions in the dyestuffs, rubber, textile, hairdressing and photography industries. It finds use in rubber curing agents, ion exchange and decolorizing resins, urethanes, textile fibers, petroleum additives, corrosion inhibitors and hair dyes. It is used as an promoter for adhering tire cords to rubber.
Xylidine serves as a gasoline additive as well as raw material in the manufacture of dyes and pharmaceuticals. Melamine is used in moulding compounds, textile and paper treating resins, and in adhesive resins for gluing lumber, plywood and flooring. In addition, it is useful in organic synthesis and in leather tanning. o-Tolidine is a reagent for the detection of gold.
The anilines are primarily used as intermediates for dyes and pigments. Several compounds are intermediates for pharmaceuticals, herbicides, insecticides and rubber processing chemicals, as well. Aniline itself is widely used in the manufacture of synthetic dyestuffs. It is also used in printing and cloth marking inks and in the manufacture of resins, varnishes, perfumes, shoe blacks, photographic chemicals, explosives, herbicides and fungicides. Aniline is useful in the manufacture of rubber as a vulcanizing agent, as an antioxidant, and as an antiozone agent. A further important function of aniline is in the manufacture of
p,p'-methylenebisphenyldiisocyanate (MDI), which is then used to prepare polyurethane resin and spandex fibers and to bond rubber to rayon and nylon.
Chloroaniline exists in three isomeric forms: ortho, meta and para, of these only the first and the last are important for manufacturing dyes, drugs and pesticides. p-Nitroaniline is a chemical intermediate for antioxidants, dyes, pigments, gasoline gum inhibitors and pharmaceuticals. It is used in diazotized form to retain fastness of dyes after washing. 4,4'-Methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline), MbOCA, is used as a curing agent with isocyanate-containing polymers for the manufacture of solid abrasion-resistant urethane rubbers and moulded semi-rigid polyurethane foam articles with a hardened skin. These materials are used in an extensive range of products, including wheels, rollers, conveyor pulleys, cable connectors and seals, shoe soles, antivibration mounts and acoustic components. p-Nitroso-N,N,-dimethylaniline and 5-chloro-o-toluidine are used as intermediates in the dyestuffs industry. N,N-Diethylaniline and N,N-dimethylaniline are used in the synthesis of dyestuffs and other intermediates. N,N-Dimethylaniline also serves as a catalytic hardener in certain fibreglass resins.
Azo compounds are among the most popular groups of various dyes including direct dyes, acid dyes, basic dyes, naphthol dyes, acid mordant dyes, disperse dyes, etc., and are extensively used in textiles, fabrics, leather goods, paper products, plastics and many other items.
The manufacture and use in industry of certain aromatic amines may constitute a grave and sometimes unexpected hazard. However, since these hazards have become better known, there has, over recent years, been a tendency to substitute other substances or to take precautions which have reduced the hazard. Discussion has also taken place concerning the possibility of aromatic amines having health effects either when they exist as impurities in a finished product, or when they may be restored as the result of a chemical reaction taking place during the use of a derivative, or—and this is a totally different case—as the result of metabolic degradation within the organism of persons who may be absorbing more complex derivatives.
Generally speaking, the principal risk of absorption lies in skin contact: the aromatic amines are nearly all lipid-soluble. This particular hazard is all the more important because in industrial practice it is one often not sufficiently appreciated. In addition to skin adsorption, there is also a considerable risk of absorption by inhalation. This may be the result of inhaling the vapours, even though most of these amines are of low volatility at normal temperatures; or it may result from breathing in dust from the solid products. This applies particularly in the case of the amine salts such as sulphates and chlorohydrates, which have a very low volatility and lipid solubility: the occupational hazard from the practical point of view is less but their over-all toxicity is about the same as the corresponding amine, and thus the inhalation of their dust and even skin contact must be considered dangerous.
Absorption by way of the digestive tract does represent a potential danger if inadequate eating and sanitary facilities are provided or if workers do not exercise excellent person hygiene practices. Contamination of food and cigarette smoking with dirty hands are two examples of possible ingestion routes.
Many of the aromatic amines are flammable and represent a moderate fire hazard. Combustion products can often be highly toxic. The primary health danger of industrial exposure to aniline arises from the ease with which it can be absorbed, either by inhalation or from skin absorption. Because of these absorptive properties, prevention of aniline poisoning requires high standards of industrial and personal hygiene. The most important specific measure for the prevention of spillage or contamination of the work atmosphere with aniline vapour is proper plant design. Ventilation control of the contaminant should be designed as close to the point of generation as possible. Work clothing should be changed daily and facilities for an obligatory bath or shower at the end of the working period should be provided. Any contamination of skin or clothing should be washed off immediately and the individual kept under medical supervision. Both workers and supervisors should be educated to be aware of the nature and extent of the hazard and to carry out the work in a clean, safe manner. Maintenance work should be preceded with sufficient attention to removal of possible sources of contact with the offending chemicals.
Since many cases of aniline poisoning result from contamination of the skin or clothing that leads to absorption through the skin, contaminated clothing should be removed and laundered. Even when intoxication results from inhalation, the clothing is likely to be contaminated and should be removed. The entire body surface, including hair and fingernails, should be carefully washed with soap and tepid water. Where methaemoglobinemia is present, appropriate emergency precautions should be taken and the occupational health service must be fully equipped and trained to handle such emergencies. Laundry workers should be provided with adequate precautions to avoid contamination from the aniline compounds.
The amines undergo a process of metabolization within the organism. Generally the active agents are the metabolites, some of which induce methaemoglobinaemia, while others are carcinogenic. These metabolites generally take the form of hydroxylamines (R-NHOH), changing to aminophenols (H2N-R-OH) as a form of detoxification; their excretion provides a means of estimating the degree of contamination when the level of exposure has been such that they are detectable.
Aromatic amines have various pathological effects, and each member of the family does not share the same toxicological properties. While each chemical must be evaluated independently, certain important characteristics are prominently shared by many of them. These include:
Toxic effects are also related to chemical characteristics. For example, although an aniline salt has a very similar toxicity to aniline itself, it is not water or lipid soluble and hence not readily absorbed through the skin or by inhalation. Thus, poisoning by aniline salts from industrial exposure are rare.
Acute poisoning generally results from the inhibition of haemoglobin function through the formation of methaemoglobin, leading to a condition called methaemoglobinemia, which is discussed more fully in the Blood chapter. Methaemoglobinemia is more often associated with the single-ring aromatic amino compounds. Methaemoglobin is normally present in the blood at a level of about 1 to 2% of the total haemoglobin. Cyanosis at the oral mucosae begins to become apparent at levels of 10 to 15%, though subjective symptoms are normally not experienced until methaemoglobin levels of the order of 30% are reached. With increases above this level, the patient's skin colour deepens; later, headache, weakness, malaise and anoxia occur, to be succeeded, if absorption continues, by coma, cardiac failure and death. Most cases of acute poisoning react favourably to treatment and the methaemoglobin disappears completely after two to three days. The consumption of alcohol is conducive to and aggravates acute methaemoglobin poisoning. Haemolysis of the red blood cells can be detected after severe poisoning, and is followed by a process of regeneration which is demonstrated by the presence of reticulocytes. The presence of Heinz bodies in the red blood corpuscles may sometimes also be detected.
Cancer. The potent carcinogenic effects of the aromatic amines were first discovered in the workplace as a result of the abnormally high incidence of cancer employees in a dye factory. The cancers were described as "dye cancer", but further analysis very soon pointed to their origin being in the raw materials, of which the most important was aniline. They then became known as "aniline cancers". Later, further definition was possible and β-naphthylamine and benzidine were considered to be the “culprit” chemicals. Experimental confirmation of this was long in coming and difficult. Experimental work on many members of this family has found a number to be animal carcinogens. Since insufficient human evidence is available, they have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) for the most part as 2B, probable human carcinogens, that is, having sufficient evidence for animal carcinogenicity but insufficient for human carcinogenicity. In some cases, laboratory work has lead to the discovery of human cancer, as in the case of 4-aminodiphenyl, which was first shown to be carcinogenic for animals (in the liver), after which a number of cases of bladder cancer in humans were brought to light.
Dermatitis. Because of their alkaline nature, certain amines, particularly the primary ones, constitute a direct risk of dermatitis. Many aromatic amines can cause allergic dermatitis, such as that due to sensitivity to the "para-amines" (p-aminophenol and particularly p-phenylenediamine). Cross-sensitivity is also possible.
Respiratory allergy. A number of cases of asthma due to sensitization to p-phenylenediamine, for example, have been reported.
Haemorrhagic cystitis can result from heavy exposure to o- and p-toluidine, particularly the chlorine derivatives, of which chloro-5-o-toluidine is the best example. These haematuria appear to be short-lived and the relationship to development of bladder tumours is not established.
Liver injuries. Certain diamines, such as toluenediamine and diaminodiphenylmethane, have potent hepatotoxic effects in experimental animals but serious liver damage resulting from industrial exposure has not been a widely reported. In 1966, however, 84 cases of toxic jaundice were reported from eating bread baked from flour contaminated with 4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane, and cases of toxic hepatitis have also been reported after occupational exposure.
Some of the toxicological properties of the aromatic amines are discussed below. Because the members of this chemical family are very numerous, it is not possible to include them all, and there may be others, not included below, which also have toxic properties.
Neither o- nor p-aminophenol isomers, which are crystalline solids of low volatility, are readily absorbed through the skin, although both may act as skin sensitizers and cause contact dermatitis, which appears to be the greatest hazard arising from their use in industry. Although both isomers can cause serious, even life-threatening methaemoglobinaemia, this seldom arises from industrial exposure, since their physical properties are such that neither compound is readily absorbed into the body. p-Aminophenol is the major metabolite of aniline in humans and is excreted in the urine in conjugated form. Bronchial asthma from the ortho isomer has been reported as well.
p-Aminodiphenyl is considered a confirmed human carcinogen by IARC. It was the first compound in which the demonstration of carcinogenic activity in experimental animals preceded the first reports of bladder tumours in exposed workers, where it was used as an antioxidant in rubber manufacture. The substance is clearly a potent bladder carcinogen since in one plant with 315 workers, 55 developed tumours as did 11% of 171 workers in another plant manufacturing 4-aminodiphenyl. The tumours appeared 5 to 19 years after initial exposure, and survival ranged in duration from 1.25 to 10 years.
Aniline and its derivatives
It has been demonstrated experimentally that aniline vapour can be absorbed via the skin and respiratory tract in approximately equal amounts; however, the rate of absorption of the liquid through the skin is about 1,000 times greater than that of the vapour. The most frequent cause of industrial poisoning is accidental skin contamination, either directly through accidental contact, or indirectly through contact with soiled clothing or footwear. The use of clean and suitable protective clothing and rapid washing in case of accidental contact constitute the best protection. While the US National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) recommends that aniline be treated as a suspected human carcinogen, IARC has rated it as a Group 3 chemical, meaning insufficient evidence of animal or human carcinogenicity.
p-Chloroaniline is a potent methaemoglobin-former and eye irritant. Animal experiments have provided no evidence of carcinogenicity. 4,4'-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline), or MbOCA, can be absorbed from contact with dust or from fume inhalation, and in industry, skin absorption may also be an important route for uptake. Laboratory studies showed MbOCA or its metabolites may cause genetic damage in a variety of organisms. In, addition, long-term subcutaneous administration in rats resulted in liver and lung tumours. Thus, MbOCA is regarded as an animal carcinogen and a probable human carcinogen.
N,N-Diethylaniline and N,N-dimethylaniline are readily absorbed through the skin, but poisoning may also occur through inhalation of vapours. Their hazards may be considered as similar to those of aniline. They are, in particular, potent methaemoglobin-formers.
Nitroanilines. Of the three mono-nitroanilines, the most important is p-nitroaniline. All are used as dye intermediates, but the o- and m- isomers only on a small scale. p-Nitroaniline is readily absorbed through the skin and also by inhalation of dust or vapour. It is a powerful methaemoglobin-former, and is alleged, in serious cases, also to bring about haemolysis, or even liver damage. Cases of poisoning and cyanosis have been reported following exposure while cleaning up spills. The chloronitroanilines are also potent methaemoglobin-formers, leading to haemolysis, and are hepatotoxic. They may give rise to dermatitis by sensitization.
p-Nitroso-N,N-dimethylaniline possesses both primary irritant and skin sensitizing properties, and it is a common cause of contact dermatitis. Although, occasionally, workers who develop dermatitis may subsequently work with this compound without further trouble, most will suffer a severe recurrence of the skin lesions on re-exposure, and, in general, it is wise to transfer them to other work to avoid further contact.
5-Chloro-o-toluidine is readily absorbed through the skin or by inhalation. Although it (and some of its isomers) may cause methaemoglobin formation, the most striking feature is its irritant effect on the urinary tract, resulting in haemorrhagic cystitis characterized by painful haematuria and frequency of micturition. Microscopic haematuria may be present in men exposed to this compound before the cystitis is manifest, but there is no carcinoenic hazard to humans. However, laboratory experiments have cast doubts on the carcinogenicity of other isomers for certain species of animals.
Benzidine and derivatives
Benzidine is a confirmed carcinogen, the manufacture and industrial use of which has caused many cases of papilloma and carcinoma of the urinary tract. Among some working populations, more than 20% of all workers have developed the disease. Recent studies indicate that benzidine may raise the rate of cancer at other sites but there is not agreement on this as yet. Benzidine is a crystalline solid with a significant vapour pressure (that is, it forms vapours readily). Penetration through the skin seems to be the most important pathway for the absorption of benzidine, but there is also a hazard from the inhalation of vapour or fine particles. The carcinogenic activity of benzidine has been established by the many reported cases of bladder tumour in exposed workers and by experimental induction in animals. It is a Group1 confirmed human carcinogen according to IARC ratings. The use of benzidine has been discontinued in most places.
3,3'-Dichlorobenzidine is a probable human carcinogen (IARC Class 2B). This conclusion is based on a statistically significantly increased tumor incidence in rats, mice and dogs and positive data on its genotoxicity. The structural relationship to benzidine, a known, powerful human bladder carcinogen, lends further weight to the probability that it is a human carcinogen.
Diamino-4,4'-diaminodiphenylmethane. The most striking example of the toxicity of this compound was when 84 persons contracted toxic hepatitis as a result of eating bread baked from flour that was contaminated with the substance. Other cases of hepatitis were noted after occupational exposure through skin absorption. It may also give rise to allergic dermatitis. Animal experiments have led to its being a suspected potential carcinogen, but conclusive results have not been obtained. Diaminodiphenylmethane derivatives have been shown to be carcinogens for laboratory animals.
Dimethylaminoazobenzene. The metabolism of DAB has been extensively studied and it has been found that it involves reduction and cleavage of the azo group, demethylation, ring hydroxylation, N-hydroxylation, N-acetylation, protein binding and binding of nucleic acids. DAB shows mutagenic properties after activation. It has carcinogenic power by various routes in the rat and mouse (liver carcinoma), and by oral route it causes carcinoma of the bladder in the dog. The only occupational health observation in humans was of contact dermatitis in factory workers handling DAB.
Technical measures should prevent any contact with the skin and mucous membranes. Workers exposed to DAB should wear personal protective equipment and their work should be carried out only in restricted areas. Clothing and equipment after use should be placed in an impervious container for decontamination or disposal. Pre-employment and periodical examinations should focus on liver function. In the US, DAB has been included by OSHA among the cancer suspect agents for humans.
Diphenylamine. This chemical can be mildly irritating. It appears that under ordinary industrial conditions it offers little hazard, but the potent carcinogen 4-aminodiphenyl may be present as an impurity during the manufacturing process. This may be concentrated to significant proportions in the tars produced at the distillation stage and will constitute a hazard of bladder cancer. While modern manufacturing procedures have enabled the amount of impurities in this compound to be considerably reduced in the commercial product, appropriate prevention must be taken to prevent unnecessary contact.
The naphthylamines occur in two isomeric forms, a-naphthylamine and b-naphthylamine.
α-Naphthylamine is absorbed through the skin and by inhalation. Contact may cause burns to the skin and eyes. Acute poisoning does not arise from its industrial use, but exposure to commercial grades of this compound in the past has resulted in many cases of papilloma and carcinoma of the bladder. It is possible that these tumours were attributable to the substantial β-naphthylamine impurity. This matter is not merely of academic interest, as α-naphthylamine with greatly reduced levels of β-naphthylamine impurity is now available.
β-Naphthylamine is a known human bladder carcinogen. Acute poisoning results in methaemoglobinemia or acute haemorrhagic cystitis. Although at one time extensively used as an intermediate in the manufacture of dyestuffs and antioxidants, its manufacture and use has been almost entirely abandoned throughout the world, and it has been condemned as too dangerous to make and handle without prohibitive precautions. It is readily absorbed through the skin and by inhalation. The question of its acute toxic effects does not arise because of its high carcinogenic potency.
Various isomeric forms of the phenylenediamines exist but only the m- and p-isomers are of industrial importance. While p-phenylenediamine can act as a methaemoglobin-former in vitro, methaemoglobinaemia arising from industrial exposure is unknown. p-Phenylenediamine is notorious for its sensitizing properties of the skin and respiratory tract. Regular skin contact readily causes contact dermatitis. Acne and leukoderma have also been reported. The former problem of "fur dermatitis" is much less frequent now owing to improvements in the dyeing process having the effect of removing all traces of p-phenylenediamine. Similarly, asthma, at one time common among fur dyers using this substance, is now relatively rare after improvements in the control of airborne dust. Even with controls, a preliminary skin test is useful prior to possible occupational exposure. m-Phenylenediamine is a strong irritant to the skin and causes eye and respiratory irritation. Conclusions drawn from experiments conducted on the phenylenediamines and their derivatives (e.g. N-phenyl or 4- or 2-nitro) relating to their carcinogenic potential are, up to the present time, either insufficient, inconclusive or negative. Chlorine derivatives that have been tested seem to have a carcinogenic potential in animal tests.
The carcinogenic potential of commercial mixtures in the past was of great concern because of the presence of β-naphthylamine, which had been found to exist as an impurity in considerable quantities (running into tens or even hundreds of ppm) in some of the older preparations, and by the discovery, in the case of N-phenyl-2-naphthylamine, PBNA, of β-naphthylamine as a metabolic excretion, though in infinitesimal quantities. The experiments point to a carcinogenic potential for the animals tested but do not permit a conclusive judgment to be made, and the degree of significance of the metabolic findings is not yet known. Epidemiological investigations on a large number of persons working under different conditions have not shown any significant increase in the incidence of cancer among workers exposed to these compounds. The amount of β-naphthylamine that is present in the marketed products today is very low—less than 1 ppm and frequently 0.5 ppm. At the present time it is not possible to draw any conclusions as to the true cancer hazard, and for this reason every precaution should be taken, including the elimination of impurities that may be suspect, and technical protective measures in the manufacture and use of these compounds.
Toluidine exists in three isomeric forms but only the o- and p- isomers are of industrial importance. o-Toluidine and p-toluidine are readily absorbed through the skin, or inhaled as dust, fume or vapour. They are powerful methaemoglobin-formers, and acute poisoning may be accompanied by microscopic or macroscopic haematuria, but they are much less potent as bladder irritants than 5-chloro-o-toluidine. There is sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals to classify o-toluidine and p-toluidine as suspected human carcinogens.
Toluenediamines. Among the six isomers of toluenediamine the one most frequently encountered is the 2,4- which accounts for 80% of the intermediate product in the manufacture of toluene diisocyanate, a further 20% being the 2,6- isomer, which is one of the basic substances for the polyurethanes. Attention was drawn to this compound following the experimental discovery of a carcinogenic potential in laboratory animals. Data on humans are not available.
Xylidines. Results of animal experiments indicate that they are primarily liver toxins and act secondarily on the blood. However, other experiments have demonstrated that methaemoglobinaemia and Heinz body formation were readily induced in cats, though not in rabbits.
In general, azo dyes as a group represent a relatively low order of general toxicity. Many of them have an oral LD50 of more than 1 g/kg when tested in rats and mice, and the rodents can be given lifetime laboratory diets containing more than 1 g of the test chemical per kg of diet. A few may cause contact dermatitis but usually with only mild manifestations; in practice, it is rather difficult to determine whether the dye per se or co-existing material is responsible for the observed skin lesion. In contrast, increasing attention has been focused on the carcinogenic potentials of the azo dyes. Although confirmative epidemiological observations are as yet rare, the data from long-term experiments have accumulated to show that some azo dyes are carcinogenic in laboratory animals. The main target organ under such experimental conditions is the liver, followed by the urinary bladder. The intestine is also involved in some cases. It is, however, very problematic to extrapolate these findings to humans.
Most of the carcinogenic azo dyes are not direct carcinogens, but pre-carcinogens. That is, they require conversion by in vivo metabolic activation through proximate carcinogens to be ultimate carcinogens. For example, methylaminoazobenzene first undergoes N-hydroxylation and N-demethylation at the amino group, and then sulphate conjugation takes place with the N-hydroxy derivative forming the ultimate carcinogen which is reactive with the nucleic acid.
It should be noted that benzidine-derived diazo dyes may be transformed to the highly carcinogenic chemical benzidine by the body’s normal metabolic processes. The body reduces two azo groups in vivo or by the activity of intestinal bacteria, to benizidine. Thus azo dyes should be handled with prudence.
Safety and Health Measures
The most important specific measure for the prevention of spillage or contamination of the work atmosphere by these compounds is proper plant design. Ventilation control of the contaminant should be designed as close to the point of generation as possible. Work clothing should be changed daily and facilities for an obligatory bath or shower at the end of the working period should be provided. Any contamination of skin or clothing should be washed off immediately and the individual kept under medical supervision. Both workers and supervisors should be educated to be aware of the nature and extent of the hazard and to carry out the work in a clean, safe manner. Maintenance work should be preceded with sufficient attention to removal of possible sources of contact with the offending chemicals.
Aromatic amino compounds tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Azides have varied uses in the chemical, dye-stuff, plastics, rubber and metal industries. Several compounds are used in wastewater treatment and as chemical intermediates, food additives, and sanitizing agents in dishwashing detergent and swimming pools.
1,1'-Azobis(formamide) is a blowing agent for synthetic and natural rubber and ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers. It is also useful as a foaming agent added to increase the porosity of plastics. Trichlorinated isocyanuric acid and sodium dichloroisocyanurate are used as sanitizing agents for swimming pools and as active ingredients in detergents, commercial and household bleaches, and dishwashing compounds. Sodium dichloroisocyanurate is also used in water and sewage treatment.
Edetic acid (EDTA) has numerous functions in the food, metal, chemical, textile, photography and health care industries. It is an antioxidant in foods. EDTA is used as a chelating agent to remove unwanted metal ions in boiler water and cooling water, in nickel plating and in wood pulping. It also acts as a bleaching agent for film processing in the photography industry, an etching agent in metal finishing and a dyeing agent in the textile industry. EDTA is found in detergents for textiles, industrial germicides, metal cutting fluids, semiconductor production, liquid soaps, shampoos, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics industry products. It is also used in medicine to treat lead poisoning.
Phenylhydrazine, aminoazotoluene and hydrazine are useful in the dye-stuff industry. Phenylhydrazine is also utilized in the preparation of pharmaceutical products. Hydrazine is a reactant in fuel cells for military uses and a reducing agent in plutonium extraction from reactor waste. It is used in nickel plating, wastewater treatment, and electrolytic plating of metals on glass and plastics. Hydrazine is employed for nuclear fuel reprocessing and as a component of high-energy fuels. It is a corrosion inhibitor in boiler feedwater and in reactor cooling water. Hydrazine is also a chemical intermediate and a rocket propellant. Diazomethane is a powerful methylating agent for acidic compounds such as carboxylic acids and phenols.
Sodium azide is used in organic synthesis, explosives manufacture and as a propellant in automobile air-bags. Hydrazoic acid is used to make contact explosives such as lead azide.
Other azides, including methylhydrazine, hydrazobenzene, 1,1-dimethylhydrazine, hydrazine sulphate and diazomethane, are used in numerous industries. Methylhydrazine is a solvent, a chemical intermediate and a missile propellant, while hydrazobenzene is a chemical intermediate and an antisludging additive to motor oil. 1,1-Dimethylhydrazine is used in rocket fuel formulations. It is a stabilizer for organic peroxide fuel additives, an absorbent for acid gases, and a component of jet fuel. Hydrazine sulphate is used in the gravimetric estimation of nickel, cobalt and cadmium. It is an antioxidant in soldering flux for light metals, a germicide and a reducing agent in the analysis of minerals and slags.
Fire and explosion hazards. Either in the gaseous or liquid state, diazomethane explodes with flashes and even at –80 °C the liquid diazomethane may detonate. It has been the general experience, however, that explosions do not occur when diazomethane is prepared and contained in solvents such as ethyl ether.
Health hazards. Diazomethane was first described in 1894 by von Pechmann, who indicated that it was extremely poisonous, causing air hunger and chest pains. Following this, other investigators reported symptoms of dizziness and tinnitus. Skin exposure to diazomethane was reported to produce denudation of the skin and mucous membranes, and it was claimed that its action resembles that of dimethyl sulphate. It was also noted that the vapours from the ether solution of the gas were irritating to the skin and rendered the fingers so tender that it was difficult to pick up a pin. In 1930, exposure of two persons resulted in chest pains, fever and severe asthmatic symptoms about 5 hours after exposure to mere traces of the gas.
The first exposure to the gas may not produce any noteworthy initial reactions; however, subsequent exposures in even minute amounts may produce extremely severe attacks of asthma and other symptoms. The pulmonary symptoms may be explained as either the result of true allergic sensitivity after repeated exposure to the gas, particularly in individuals with hereditary allergy, or of a powerful irritant action of the gas on the mucous membranes.
At least 16 cases of acute diazomethane poisoning, including fatalities from pulmonary oedema, have been reported amongst chemists and laboratory workers. In all cases, symptoms of intoxication included irritating cough, fever and malaise, varying in intensity according to the degree and duration of exposure. Subsequent exposures have led to hypersensitivity.
In animals, exposure to diazomethane at 175 ppm for 10 minutes caused haemorrhagic emphysema and pulmonary oedema in cats, resulting in death in 3 days.
Toxicity. One explanation for the toxicity of diazomethane has been the intracellular formation of formaldehyde. Diazomethane reacts slowly with water to form methyl alcohol and liberate nitrogen. Formaldehyde, in turn, is formed by the oxidation of methyl alcohol. The possibilities of liberation in vivo of methyl alcohol or of the reaction of diazomethane with carboxylic compounds to form toxic methyl esters may be considered; on the other hand, the deleterious effects of diazomethane may be primarily due to the strongly irritant action of the gas on the respiratory system.
Diazomethane has been shown to be a lung carcinogen in mice and rats. Skin application and subcutaneous injection, as well as inhalation of the compound, have also been shown to cause tumour development in experimental animals. Bacterial studies show it is mutagenic. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), however, places it in Group 3, unclassifiable as to human carcinogenicity.
Diazomethane is an effective insecticide for the chemical control of Triatoma infestations. It is also useful as an algicide. When the ichthyotoxic component of the green alga Chaetomorpha minima is methylated with diazomethane, a solid is obtained which retains its toxicity to kill fish. It is noteworthy that in the metabolism of the carcinogens dimethylnitrosamine and cycasin, one of the intermediary products is diazomethane.
Hydrazine and derivatives
Flammability, explosion and toxicity are major hazards of the hydrazines. For example, when hydrazine is mixed with nitromethane, a high explosive is formed which is more dangerous than TNT. All hydrazines discussed here have sufficiently high vapour pressures to present serious health hazards by inhalation. They have a fishy, ammoniacal odour which is repulsive enough to indicate the presence of dangerous concentrations for brief accidental exposure conditions. At lower concentrations, which may occur during manufacturing or transfer processes, the warning properties of odour may not be enough to preclude low-level chronic occupational exposures in fuel handlers.
Moderate to high concentrations of hydrazine vapours are highly irritating to the eyes, nose and the respiratory system. Skin irritation is pronounced with the propellant hydrazines; direct liquid contact results in burns and even sensitization type of dermatitis, especially in the case of phenylhydrazine. Eye splashes have a strongly irritating effect, and hydrazine can cause permanent corneal lesions.
In addition to their irritating properties, hydrazines also exert pronounced systemic effects by any route of absorption. After inhalation, skin absorption is the second most important route of intoxication. All hydrazines are moderate to strong central nervous system poisons, resulting in tremors, increased central nervous system excitability and, at sufficiently high doses, convulsions. This can progress to depression, respiratory arrest and death. Other systemic effects are in the haematopoietic system, the liver and the kidney. The individual hydrazines vary widely in degree of systemic toxicity as far as target organs are concerned.
The haematological effects are self-explanatory on the basis of haemolytic activity. These are dose dependent and, with the exception of monomethylhydrazine, they are most prominent in chronic intoxication. Bone marrow changes are hyperplastic with phenylhydrazine, and blood cell production outside the bone marrow has also been observed. Monomethylhydrazine is a strong methaemoglobin former, and blood pigments are excreted in the urine. The liver changes are primarily of the fatty degeneration type, seldom progressing to necrosis, and are usually reversible with the propellant hydrazines. Monomethylhydrazine and phenylhydrazine in high doses can cause extensive kidney damage. Changes in the heart muscle are primarily of fatty character. The nausea observed with all of these hydrazines is of central origin and refractory to medication. The most potent convulsants in this series are monomethylhydrazine and 1,1-dimethylhydrazine. Hydrazine causes primarily depression, and convulsions occur much less frequently.
All hydrazines appear to have some kind of activities in some laboratory animal species by some route of entry (feeding in drinking water, gastric intubation or inhalation). IARC considers them Group 2B, possibly carcinogenic in humans. In laboratory animals, with the exception of one derivative not discussed here, 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (or symmetrical dimethylhydrazine), there is a definite dose response. In view of its Group 2B rating, any exposure of humans should be minimized by proper protective equipment and decontamination of accidental spills.
The pathology of phenylhydrazine has been studied by means of animal experiments and clinical observations. Information about the effects of phenylhydrazine in humans was obtained from the use of phenylhydrazine hydrochloride for therapy. The conditions observed included haemolytic anaemia, with hyperbilirubinaemia and urobilinuria, and the appearance of Heinz bodies; liver damage with hepatomegalia, icterus, and very dark urine containing phenols; sometimes signs of kidney manifestations occurred. Haematological effects included cyanosis, haemolytic anaemia, sometimes with methaemoglobinaemia, and leucocytosis. Among the more general symptoms were fatigue, giddiness, diarrhoea and lowering of the blood pressure. It was also observed that a student, who had received 300 g of the substance on the abdomen and thighs suffered from cardiac collapse with a coma that lasted for several hours. Individuals with hereditary glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) deficiency would be much more susceptible to the haemolytic effects of phenylhydrazine and should not be exposed to it.
With regard to skin damage, there have been reports of acute eczema with vesicular eruption, as well as chronic eczema on the hands and forearms of workers preparing antipyrin. Also described was a case of vesicular dermatosis with the production of phlyctenae on the wrist of an assistant chemist. This appeared 5 or 6 hours after handling and took 2 weeks to heal. A chemical engineer who handled the substance suffered only from a few pimples, which disappeared in 2 or 3 days. Phenylhydrazine is therefore regarded as a potent skin sensitizer. It is very rapidly absorbed by the skin.
Because of reports of carcinogenicity of phenylhydrazine to mice, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has recommended its regulation as a human carcinogen. A variety of bacterial and tissue-culture studies have shown it is mutagenic. Intraperitoneal injection of pregnant mice resulted in offspring with severe jaundice, anaemia and a deficit in acquired behaviour.
Sodium azide and hydrazoic acid
Sodium azide is manufactured by combining sodamide with nitrous oxide. It reacts with water to produce hydrazoic acid. Hydrazoic acid vapour may be present when handling sodium azide. Commercially, hydrazoic acid is produced by the action of acid on sodium azide.
Sodium azide appears to be only slightly less acutely toxic than sodium cyanide. It may be fatal if inhaled, swallowed or absorbed through skin. Contact may cause burns to skin and eyes. A lab technician accidentally ingested what was estimated to be a “very small amount” of sodium azide. Symptoms of tachycardia, hyperventilation and hypotension were observed. The authors note that the minimal hypotensive dose in humans lies between 0.2 and 0.4 mg/kg.
Treatment of normal individuals with 3.9 mg/day of sodium azide for 10 days produced no effects other than a heart-pounding sensation. Some hypertensive patients developed sensitivity to azide at 0.65 mg/day.
Workers exposed to 0.5 ppm hydrazoic acid developed headaches and nasal congestion. Additional symptoms of weakness and eye and nasal irritation developed from exposure to 3 ppm for less than 1 hour. Pulse rate was variable and blood pressure was low or normal. Similar symptoms were reported among workers making lead azide. They had definite low blood pressure which became more pronounced during the work day and returned to normal after leaving work.
Animal studies showed a rapid but temporary fall in blood pressure from single oral doses of 2 mg/kg or more of sodium azide. Associated haematuria and cardiac irregularities were observed at levels of 1 mg/kg IV in cats. Symptoms observed in animals after relatively large doses of sodium azide are respiratory stimulation and convulsions, then depression and death. The LD50 for sodium azide is 45 mg/kg in rats and 23 mg/kg in mice.
Exposure of rodents to hydrazoic acid vapour causes acute inflammation of the deep lung. Hydrazoic acid vapour is about eight times less toxic than hydrogen cyanide, with a concentration of 1,024 ppm being fatal in mice after 60 minutes (compared to 135 ppm for hydrogen cyanide).
Sodium azide was mutagenic in bacteria, although this effect was reduced if metabolizing enzymes were present. It was also mutagenic in mammalian cell studies.
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Boron and boranes have varied functions in the electronics, metalworking, chemical, pulp and paper, ceramics, textile and construction industries. In the electronics industry, boron, boron tribromide and boron trichloride are used as semiconductors. Boron is an igniter in radio tubes and a degasifying agent in metallurgy. It is also used in pyrotechnic flares. Diborane, pentaborane and decaborane are utilized in high-energy fuel. Boron trichloride, diborane and decaborane are rocket propellants, and triethylboron and boron serve as igniters for jet and rocket engines. 10Boron is employed in the nuclear industry as a constituent of neutron-shielding material in reactors.
In the metalworking industry, many of the boranes are used in welding and brazing. Other compounds are employed as flame retardants and as bleaching agents in the textile, paper and pulp, and paint and varnish industries. Boron oxide is a fire-resistant additive in paints and varnishes, while sodium tetraborate, borax and trimethyl borate are fireproofing agents for textile goods. Both borax and sodium tetraborate are used for the fireproofing and artificial aging of wood. In the construction industries, they are components of fibreglass insulation. Sodium tetraborate also serves as an algicide in industrial water and as an agent in the tanning industry for curing and preserving skins. Borax is a germicide in cleaning products, a corrosion inhibitor in antifreeze, and a powdered insecticide for crack and crevice treatment of food-handling areas. Decaborane is a rayon delustrant and a mothproofing agent in the textile industry, and sodium borohydride is a bleaching agent for wood pulp.
In the ceramics industry, boron oxide and borax are found in glazes, and sodium tetraborate is a component of porcelain enamels and glazes. Sodium perborate is employed for bleaching textile goods and for electroplating. It is used in soaps, deodorants, detergents, mouthwash and vat dyes. Boron trifluoride is used in food packaging, electronics, and in the nuclear industry’s breeder reactors.
Boron is a naturally occurring substance that is commonly found in food and drinking water. In trace amounts it is essential to the growth of plants and certain types of algae. Although it is also found in human tissue, its role is unknown. Boron is generally regarded as safe (GRAS) for use as an indirect food additive (e.g., in packaging), but compounds containing boron can be highly toxic. Boron is present in a number of industrially useful compounds, including borates, boranes and boron halides.
Boron toxicity in humans is seen most commonly following chronic use of medicines containing boric acid and in cases of accidental ingestion, especially among young children. Occupational toxicity usually results from exposure of the respiratory system or open skin wounds to dusts, gases or vapours of boron compounds.
Acute irritation of eyes, skin and the respiratory tract can follow contact with almost any of these materials in usual concentrations. Absorption can affect the blood, respiratory tract, digestive tract, kidneys, liver and central nervous system; in severe cases, it can result in death.
Boric acid is the most common of the borates, which are compounds of boron, oxygen and other elements. Acute exposure to boric acid in liquid or solid forms can cause irritation, the severity of which is determined by the concentration and duration of exposure. Inhalation of borate dusts or mists can directly irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory system.
Symptoms of this irritation include eye discomfort, dry mouth, sore throat and productive cough. Workers usually report these symptoms after acute boric acid exposures over
10 mg/m3; however, chronic exposures of less than half this can also cause irritant symptoms.
Workers exposed to borax (sodium borate) dust have reported chronic productive cough, and, in those who have experienced long exposures, obstructive abnormalities have been detected, though it is unclear whether these are related to exposure.
Borates are readily absorbed through open skin wounds and from the respiratory and digestive tracts. After absorption borates exert predominant actions upon the skin, central nervous system and digestive tract. Symptoms generally develop rapidly, but may take hours to evolve following skin exposures. Following absorption, the skin or mucous membranes may develop abnormal redness (erythema), or surface tissue may be shed. Chronic exposure may cause eczema, patchy hair loss and swelling around the eyes. These dermatologic effects may take days to develop after exposure. The individual may experience abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Vomitus and diarrhoea may be blue-green in colour and may contain blood. Headache, excitement or depression, seizures, lethargy and coma may develop.
In instances of acute poisoning, anaemia, acidosis and dehydration develop, accompanied by rapid, weak pulse and low blood pressure. These effects may be followed by irregular heart rhythm, shock, kidney failure and, in rare cases, liver damage. Victims appear pale, sweaty and acutely ill. Most of these severe findings have been present just before death from acute borate toxicity. However, when victims are diagnosed and treated in time, the effects usually are reversible.
The reproductive effects of borates are still unclear. Boric acid exposure inhibited sperm motility in rats and, at higher levels, led to testicular atrophy. Animal and tissue studies of genotoxicity have been negative, but infertility has been demonstrated in both males and females after chronic boric acid feedings. Offspring have shown delayed and abnormal development including abnormal rib development. In humans, there is only suggestive evidence of decreased fertility among the few workers who have been evaluated in uncontrolled studies.
Boron trihalides—boron trifluoride, boron chloride and boron bromide—can react violently with water, liberating hydrogen halides such as hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids. Boron trifluoride is a severe irritant of the lungs, eyes and skin. Animals studied after lethal exposures showed kidney failure and kidney tubule damage, pulmonary irritation and pneumonia. Examinations of a small number of exposed workers showed some decreases in pulmonary function, but it was unclear whether these were related to exposure.
Boranes (boron hydrides)—diborane, pentaborane and decaborane—are extremely reactive compounds which can explode on contact with oxygen or oxidizing agents. As a group they are severe irritants which can quickly cause chemical pneumonia, pulmonary oedema and other respiratory injuries. In addition, boranes have been reported to cause seizures and neurological damage with long-lasting neurological deficits and psychological symptoms. These compounds must be handled with extreme caution.
There is no evidence of boron or the borates causing cancer in chronic experiments with animals or in studies of exposed humans.
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
This class of compounds is characterized by the presence of a C=N (cyano) group and includes the cyanides and nitriles (R–C=N) as well as related chemicals such as cyanogens, isocyanates and cyanamides. They primarily owe their toxicity to the cyanide ion, which is capable of inhibiting many enzymes, especially cytochrome oxidase, when released in the body. Death, which may be more or less rapid depending on the rate at which the cyanide ion is released, results from chemical asphyxia at the cellular level.
Inorganic cyanides are readily hydrolyzed by water and decomposed by carbon dioxide and mineral acids to form hydrogen cyanide, which can also be produced by certain naturally occurring bacteria. Hydrogen cyanide is evolved in coke and steel-making, and can be generated in fires where polyurethane foam is incinerated (e.g., furniture, partitions and so on). It can be generated accidentally by the action of acids on cyanide-containing wastes (lactonitrile evolves hydrocyanic acid when in contact with an alkali, for example.), and intentionally in gas chambers for capital punishment, where cyanide pellets are dropped into bowls of acid to create a lethal atmosphere.
Nitriles (also called organic cyanides) are organic compounds which contain a cyano group
(–C=N) as the characteristic functional group and have the generic formula RCN. They may be regarded as hydrocarbon derivatives wherein three hydrogen atoms attached to a primary carbon are replaced by a nitrilo group, or as derivatives of carboxylic acids (R—COOH) in which the oxo and hydroxyl radicals are replaced by a nitrilo group (R—C=N). Upon hydrolysis, they yield an acid which contains the same number of carbon atoms and which, therefore, is usually named by analogy with the acid rather than as a derivative of hydrogen cyanide. They are very dangerous when heated to decomposition because of the release of hydrogen cyanide.
Saturated aliphatic nitriles up to C14 are liquids having a rather pleasant odour like the ethers. Nitriles of C14 and higher are odourless solids and generally colourless. Most nitriles will boil without decomposition at temperatures lower than those for the corresponding acids. They are extremely reactive compounds and are used extensively as intermediates in organic synthesis. They are widely used starting materials in the synthesis of various fatty acids, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, synthetic resins, plastics and dyes.
The inorganic cyano compounds have varied uses in the metal, chemical, plastics and rubber industries. They are utilized as chemical intermediates, pesticides, metal cleaners, and as agents for extracting gold and silver from ores.
Acryonitrile (vinyl cyanide, cyanoethylene, propene nitrile), a flammable and explosive colourless liquid, is found in surface coatings and adhesives and is used as a chemical intermediate in the synthesis of antioxidants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides, dyes and surface-active agents.
Calcium cyanamide (nitrolim, calcium carbimide, cyanamide) is a blackish-grey, shiny powder used in agriculture as a fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide and a defoliant for cotton plants. It is also used in steel hardening and as a desulphurizer in the iron and steel industry. In industry, calcium cyanamide is used for the manufacture of calcium cyanide and dicyandiamide, the raw material for melamine.
Cyanogen, cyanogen bromide and cyanogen chloride are used in organic syntheses. Cyanogen is also a fumigant and a fuel gas for welding and cutting heat-resistant metals. It is a rocket or missile propellant in mixtures with ozone or fluorine; and it may also be present in blast furnace emissions. Cyanogen bromide is utilized in textile treatment, as a fumigant and pesticide, and in gold extraction processes. Cyanogen chloride serves as a warning agent in fumigant gases.
Hydrogen cyanide finds use in the manufacture of synthetic fibres and plastics, in metal polishes, electroplating solutions, metallurgical and photographic processes, and in the production of cyanide salts. Sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide are used in electroplating, steel hardening, extraction of gold and silver from ores, and in the manufacture of dyes and pigments. In addition, sodium cyanide functions as a depressant in the froth flotation separation of ores.
Potassium ferricyanide (red prussiate of potash) is used in photography and in blueprints, metal tempering, electroplating and pigments. Potassium ferrocyanide (yellow prussiate of potash) is used in the tempering of steel and in process engraving. It is employed in the manufacture of pigments and as a chemical reagent.
Calcium cyanide, malononitrile, acetone cyanohydrin (2-hydroxy-2-methylproprionitrile), cyanamide and acrylonitrile are other useful compounds in the metal, plastics, rubber and chemical industries. Calcium cyanide and malononitrile are leaching agents for gold. In addition, calcium cyanide is used as a fumigant, a pesticide, a stabilizer for cement, and in the manufacture of stainless steel. Acetone cyanohydrin is a complexing agent for metal refining and separation, and cyanamide is used in metal cleaners, the refining of ores and the production of synthetic rubber. Ammonium thiocyanate is used in the match and photography industries and for double-dyeing fabrics and improving the strength of silks weighted with tin salts. It is a stabilizer for glues, a tracer in oil fields, and an ingredient in pesticides and liquid rocket propellants. Potassium cyanate serves as a chemical intermediate and as a weed killer.
Some of the more important organic nitriles in industrial use include acryonitrile (vinyl cyanamide, cyanethylene, propene nitrile), acetonitrile, (methyl cyanamide, ethanenitrile, cyanomethane), ethylene cyanohydrin, proprionitrile (ethyl cyanide), lactonitrile, glycolonitrile (formaldehyde cyanohydrin, hydroxyacetonitrile, hydroxymethylcyanide, methylene cyanohydrin), 2-methyl-lactonitrile, and adiponitrile.
Cyanide compounds are toxic to the extent that they release the cyanide ion. Acute exposure can cause death by asphyxia, as the result of exposure to lethal concentrations of hydrogen cyanide (HCN) whether by inhalation, ingestion or percutaneous absorption; in the last case, however, the dose required is higher. Chronic exposure to cyanides at levels too low to produce such serious symptoms may cause a variety of problems. Dermatitis, often accompanied by itching, an erythematous rash and papules, has been a problem for workers in the electroplating industry. Severe irritation of the nose may lead to obstruction, bleeding, sloughs and, in some cases, perforation of the septum. Among fumigators, mild cyanide poisoning has been recognized as the cause of symptoms of oxygen starvation, headache, rapid heart rate, and nausea, all of which were completely reversed when the exposure ceased.
Chronic systemic cyanide poisoning may occur, but is rarely recognized because of the gradual onset of the disability, and symptoms which are consistent with other diagnoses. It has been suggested that excessive thiocyanate in extracellular fluids might explain chronic illness due to cyanide, since the symptoms reported are similar to those found when thiocyanate is used as a drug. Symptoms of chronic disease have been reported in electroplaters and silver polishers after several years of exposure. The most prominent were motor weakness of arms and legs, headaches and thyroid diseases; these findings have also been reported as complications of thiocyanate therapy.
The cyanide ion of soluble cyanide compounds is rapidly absorbed from all routes of entry—inhalation, ingestion and percutaneous. Its toxic properties result from its ability to form complexes with heavy metal ions which inhibit the enzymes required for cellular respiration, primarily cytochrome oxidase. This prevents the uptake of oxygen by the tissues, causing death by asphyxia. The blood retains its oxygen, producing the characteristic cherry-red colour of the victims of acute cyanide poisoning. Cyanide ions combine with the approximately 2% of methaemoglobin normally present—a fact that has helped to develop the treatment of cyanide poisoning.
If the initial dose is not fatal, part of the cyanide dose is exhaled unchanged, while rhodanase, an enzyme widely distributed in the body, converts the remainder to the much less harmful thiocyanate, which remains in extracellular body fluids until it is excreted in the urine. Urinary levels of thiocyanate have been used to measure the extent of the intoxication, but they are non-specific and are elevated in smokers. There may be an effect on thyroid function due to the affinity of thiocyanate ion for iodine.
There are variations in the biological effects of the compounds in this group. At low concentrations, hydrogen cyanide (hydrocyanic acid, prussic acid) and the halogenated cyanide compounds (i.e., cyanogen chloride and bromide) in vapour form produce irritation of the eyes and the respiratory tract (the respiratory effects, including pulmonary oedema, may be delayed). Systemic effects include weakness, headaches, confusion, nausea and vomiting. In mild cases, the blood pressure remains normal despite increase in the pulse rate. The respiratory rate varies with the intensity of exposure—rapid with mild exposure, or slow and gasping with severe exposure.
The toxicity of nitriles varies greatly with their molecular structure, ranging from comparatively non-toxic compounds (e.g., the saturated fatty acid nitriles) to highly toxic materials, such as α-aminonitriles and α-cyanohydrins, which are considered to be as toxic as hydrocyanic acid itself. The halogenated nitriles are highly toxic and irritant, and cause considerable lacrimation. Nitriles such as acrylonitrile, propionitrile and fumaronitrile are toxic and may cause severe and painful dermatitis in exposed skin.
Exposure to toxic nitriles may rapidly cause death by asphyxiation similar to that resulting from exposure to hydrogen cyanide. Individuals who survived exposure to high concentrations of nitriles were said to have no evidence of residual physiological effects after the recovery from the acute episode; this has led to the opinion that the person either succumbs to the nitrile exposure or recovers completely.
Medical surveillance should include pre-employment and periodic examinations focused on skin disorders and the cardiovascular, pulmonary and central nervous systems. A history of fainting spells or convulsive disorders might present an added risk for nitrile workers.
All nitriles should be handled under carefully controlled conditions and only by personnel having a thorough understanding and knowledge of safe handling techniques. Leather should not be used for protective garments, gloves and footwear, since it may be penetrated by acryonitrile and other similar compounds; rubber protective equipment should be washed and inspected frequently to detect swelling and softening. The eyes should be protected, proper respirators worn, and all splashes immediately and thoroughly washed away.
Acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is a chemical asphyxiant like hydrogen cyanide. It is also an irritant, affecting the skin and mucous membranes; it may cause severe corneal damage in the eye if not rapidly washed away by copious irrigation. IARC has classified acrylonitrile as a Group 2A carcinogen: the agent is probably carcinogenic to humans. The classification is based on limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in animals.
Acrylonitrile may be absorbed by inhalation or through the skin. In gradual exposures, victims may have significant levels of cyanide in the blood before symptoms appear. They derive from tissue anoxia and include, roughly in order of onset, limb weakness, dyspnoea, burning sensation in the throat, dizziness and impaired judgement, cyanosis and nausea. In the later stages, collapse, irregular breathing or convulsions and cardiac arrest may occur without warning. Some patients appear hysterical or may even be violent; any such deviations from normal behaviour should suggest acryonitrile poisoning.
Repeated or prolonged skin contact with acrylonitrile may produce irritation after hours of no apparent effect. Since acrylonitrile is readily absorbed into leather or clothing, blistering may appear unless the contaminated articles are removed promptly and the underlying skin washed. Rubber clothing should be inspected and washed frequently because it will soften and swell.
An important hazard is fire and explosion. The low flashpoint indicates that sufficient vapour is evolved at normal temperatures to form a flammable mixture with air. Acrylonitrile has the ability to polymerize spontaneously under the action of light or heat, which may lead to explosion even when it is kept in closed containers. It must therefore never be stored uninhibited. The danger of fire and explosion is intensified by the lethal nature of the fumes and vapours evolved, such as ammonia and hydrogen cyanide.
Calcium cyanamide. Calcium cyanamide is encountered chiefly as a dust. When inhaled, it will cause rhinitis, pharyngitis, laryngitis and bronchitis. Perforation of the nasal septum has been reported after long exposure. In the eyes, it may cause conjunctivitis, keratitis and corneal ulceration. It may cause an itchy dermatitis which, after a time, may present slowly-healing ulcerations on the palms of the hand and between the fingers. Skin sensitization may occur.
Its most notable systemic effect is a characteristic vasomotor reaction featuring diffuse erythema of the body, face and arms which may be accompanied by fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness and sensations of cold. In severe cases, circulatory collapse may ensue. This vasomotor reaction may be triggered or exaggerated by consumption of alcohol.
In addition to adequate exhaust ventilation and personal protective equipment, a waterproof barrier cream may provide added protection for face and exposed skin. Good personal hygiene, including showers and changes of clothing after each shift, is important.
Cyanates. Some of the more important cyanates in industrial use include sodium cyanate, potassium cyanate, ammonium cyanate, lead cyanate and silver cyanate. Cyanates of such elements as barium, boron, cadmium, cobalt, copper, silicon, sulphur and thallium may be prepared by reactions between solutions of a cyanate and the corresponding salt of the metal. They are dangerous because they release hydrogen cyanide when heated to decomposition or when in contact with acid or acid fumes. Personnel handling these materials should be provided with respiratory and skin protection.
Sodium cyanate is used in organic synthesis, the heat treatment of steel, and as an intermediate in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals. It is considered to be moderately toxic, and workers should be protected against dust inhalation and skin contamination.
Cyanate compounds vary in toxicity; therefore, they should be handled under controlled conditions, taking standard precautions to protect personnel against exposure. When heated to decomposition or when placed in contact with acid or acid fumes, the cyanates emit highly toxic fumes. Adequate ventilation must be provided, and air quality at the worksite should be closely monitored. Personnel should not inhale contaminated air nor allow skin contact with these materials. Good personal hygiene is essential for those working in areas where such compounds are handled.
Safety and Health Measures
Scrupulous attention to proper ventilation is necessary. Complete enclosure of the process is recommended, with supplementary exhaust ventilation available. Warning signs should be posted near entrances to areas in which hydrogen cyanide may be released into the air. All shipping and storage containers for hydrogen cyanide or cyanide salts should bear a warning label that included instructions for first aid; they should be in a well-ventilated area and handled with great care.
Those working with cyanide salts should fully understand the hazard. They should be trained to recognize the characteristic odour of hydrogen cyanide and to evacuate the work area immediately if it is detected. Workers entering a contaminated area must be supplied with air-supplied or self-contained respirators with canisters specific for cyanides, goggles if full-face masks are not worn, and impervious protective clothing.
For those who work with acrylonitrile, the usual precautions for carcinogens and for highly flammable liquids are necessary. Steps must be taken to eliminate the risk of ignition from sources such as electrical equipment, static electricity and friction. Because of the toxic, as well as the flammable, nature of the vapour, its escape into the worksite air must be prevented by enclosure of the process and exhaust ventilation. Continuous monitoring of the workplace air is necessary to ensure that these engineering controls remain effective. Personal respiratory protection, preferably of the positive pressure type, and impermeable protective clothing are necessary when there is a possibility of exposure, as from a normal but non-routine operation such as a pump replacement. Leather should not be used for protective clothing since it is readily penetrated by acrylonitrile; rubber and other types of clothing should be inspected and washed frequently.
Acrylonitrile workers should be educated about the chemical’s dangers and trained in rescue, decontamination, life-support procedures and the use of amyl nitrate. Skilled medical attention is required in emergencies; principal requirements are an alarm system and plant personnel trained to support the activities of the health professionals. Supplies of specific antidotes should be available on site and at adjacent hospital centres.
Medical surveillance of workers potentially exposed to cyanides should focus on the respiratory, cardiovascular and central nervous systems; liver, kidney and thyroid function; condition of the skin; and a history of fainting or dizzy spells. Workers with chronic diseases of the kidneys, respiratory tract, skin or thyroid are at greater risk of developing toxic cyanide effects than healthy workers.
Medical control requires training in artificial resuscitation and the use of drugs prescribed for emergency treatment of acute poisoning (e.g., inhalations of amyl nitrite). As soon as possible, contaminated clothing, gloves and footwear should be removed and the skin washed to prevent continuing absorption. First-aid kits with drugs and syringes should be placed appropriately at hand and checked frequently.
Unfortunately, some widely distributed handbooks suggest that methylene blue is useful in cyanide poisoning because, at certain concentrations, it forms methaemoglobin, which, because of its affinity for the cyanide ion, might reduce the toxic effect. The use of methylene blue is not recommended since at other concentrations it has the reverse effect of converting methaemoglobin to haemoglobin, and analyses to verify that its concentration is appropriate are not feasible under the conditions created by the cyanide emergency.
Individuals exposed to toxic levels of nitriles should be immediately removed to a safe area and given amyl nitrite by inhalation. Any indications of respiratory problems would indicate oxygen inhalation and, if necessary, cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Contaminated clothing should be removed and the areas of skin copiously washed. Extended flushing of the eyes with neutral solutions or water is advised if there is lacrimation or any evidence of conjunctival irritation. Properly trained physicians, nurses and emergency medical technicians should be summoned to the scene promptly to administer definitive treatment and keep the victim under close observation until recovery is complete.
Cyano compounds tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Epoxy compounds are those that consist of oxirane rings (either one or more). An oxirane ring is essentially one oxygen atom linked to two carbon atoms. These will react with amino, hydroxyl and carboxyl groups as well as inorganic acids to yield relatively stable compounds.
Epoxy compounds have found wide industrial use as chemical intermediates in the manufacture of solvents, plasticizers, cements, adhesives and synthetic resins. They are commonly used in various industries as protective coatings for metal and wood. The alpha-epoxy compounds, with the epoxy group (C-O-C) in the 1,2 position, are the most reactive of the epoxy compounds and are primarily used in industrial applications. The epoxy resins, when converted by curing agents, yield highly versatile, thermosetting materials used in a variety of applications including surface coatings, electronics (potting compounds), laminating, and bonding together of a wide variety of materials.
Butylene oxides (1,2-epoxybutane and 2,3-epoxybutane) are used for the production of butylene glycols and their derivatives, as well as for the manufacture of surface active agents. Epichlorohydrin is a chemical intermediate, insecticide, fumigant and solvent for paints, varnishes, nail enamels and lacquers. It is also used in polymer coating material in the water supply system and in raw material for high wet-strength resins for the paper industry. Glycidol (or 2,3-epoxypropanol) is a stabilizer for natural oils and vinyl polymers, a dye-leveling agent and an emulsifier.
1,2,3,4-Diepoxybutane. Short-term (4-hour) inhalation studies with rats have caused watering of the eyes, clouding of the cornea, laboured breathing and lung congestion. Experiments in other animal species have demonstrated that diepoxybutane, like many of the other epoxy compounds, can cause eye irritation, burns and blisters of the skin, and irritation of the pulmonary system. In humans, accidental “minor” exposure caused swelling of the eyelids, upper respiratory tract irritation, and painful eye irritation 6 hours after exposure.
Skin application of D,L- and the meso- forms of 1,2,3,4-diepoxybutane have produced skin tumours, including squamous-cell skin carcinomas, in mice. The D- and L- isomers have produced local sarcomas in mice and rats by subcutaneous and intraperitoneal injection respectively.
Several epoxy compounds are employed in the health care and food industries. Ethylene oxide is used to sterilize surgical instruments and hospital equipment, fabric, paper products, sheets and grooming instruments. It is also a fumigant for foodstuffs and textiles, a rocket propellant, and a growth accelerator for tobacco leaves. Ethylene oxide is used as an intermediary in the production of ethylene glycol, polyethylene terephthalate polyester film and fibre, and other organic compounds. Guaiacol is a local anaesthetic agent, antioxidant, stimulant expectorant, and a chemical intermediate for other expectorants. It is used as a flavouring agent for non-alcoholic beverages and food. Propylene oxide, or 1,2-epoxypropane, has been used as a fumigant for the sterilization of packaged food products and other materials. It is a highly reactive intermediary in the production of polyether polyols, which, in turn, are used to make polyurethane foams. The chemical is also used in the production of propylene glycol and its derivatives.
Vinylcyclohexene dioxide is used as a reactive diluent for other diepoxides and for resins derived from epichlorohydrin and bisphenol A. Its use as a monomer for the preparation of polyglycols containing free epoxide groups or for polymerization to a tridimensional resin has been investigated.
Furfural is used in screening tests for urine, solvent refining of petroleum oils, and manufacturing of varnishes. It is a synthetic flavouring agent, a solvent for nitrated cotton, a constituent of rubber cements, and a wetting agent in the manufacture of abrasive wheels and brake linings. Furfuryl alcohol is also a flavouring agent, as well as a liquid propellant and solvent for dyes and resins. It is used in corrosive-resistant sealants and cements, and foundry cores. Tetrahydrofuran is used in histology, chemical synthesis, and in the fabrication of articles for packaging, transporting and storing foods. It is a solvent for fat oils and unvulcanized rubber. Diepoxybutane has been used to prevent spoilage of foodstuffs, as a polymer curing agent, and for cross-linking textile fibres.
There are numerous epoxy compounds in use today. Specific commonly used ones are individually discussed below. There are, however, certain characteristic hazards shared by the group. In general, the toxicity of a resin system is a complicated interplay between the individual toxicities of its various component ingredients. The compounds are known sensitizers of the skin, and those with the highest sensitization potential are those of lower relative molecular weight. Low molecular weight is also generally associated with increased volatility. Delayed and immediate allergic epoxy dermatitis and irritant epoxy dermatitis have all been reported. The dermatitis usually first develops on the hands between the digits, and can range in severity from erythema to marked bullous eruption. Other target organs reportedly adversely affected by epoxy compound exposure include the central nervous sysstem (CNS), the lungs, the kidneys, the reproductive organs, the blood and the eyes. There is also evidence that certain epoxy compounds have mutagenic potential. In one study, 39 of the 51 epoxy compounds tested induced a positive response in the Ames/Salmonella assay. Other epoxides have been shown to induce sister-chromatid exchanges in human lymphocytes. Animal studies looking at associated epoxide exposures and cancers are ongoing.
It should be noted that certain of the curing agents, hardeners and other processing agents used in the production of the final compounds have associated toxicities as well. One in particular, 4,4-methylenedianiline (MDA), is associated with hepatotoxicity and with damage to the retina of the eye, and has been known to be an animal carcinogen. Another is trimellitic anhydride (TMA). Both are discussed elsewhere in this chapter.
One epoxy compound, epichlorohydrin, has been reported to cause a significant increase of pulmonary cancer in exposed workers. This chemical is classified as a Group 2A chemical, probably carcinogenic to humans, by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). One long-term epidemiological study of workers exposed to epichlorohydrin at two US facilities of the Shell Chemical Company was reported to demonstrate a statistically significant (p < .05) increase in deaths due to respiratory cancer. Like the other epoxy compounds, epichlorohydrin is irritating to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract of exposed individuals. Human and animal evidence has demonstrated that epichlorohydrin may induce severe skin damage and systemic poisoning following extended dermal contact. Exposures to epichlorohydrin at 40 ppm for 1 h have been reported to cause eye and throat irritation lasting 48 h, and at 20 ppm caused temporary burning of the eyes and nasal passages. Epichlorohydrin-induced sterility in animals has been reported, as have liver and kidney damage.
Subcutaneous injection of epichlorohydrin has produced tumours in mice at the injection site but has not produced tumours in mice by skin-painting assay. Inhalation studies with rats have shown a statistically significant increase in nasal cancer. Epichlorohydrin has induced mutations (base-pair substitution) in microbial species. Increases in the chromosomal aberrations found in the white blood cells of workers exposed to epichlorohydrin have been reported. As of 1996 the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) established a TLV of 0.5 ppm, and it is considered an A3 carcinogen (animal carcinogen).
1,2-Epoxybutane and isomers (butylene oxides). These compounds are less volatile and less toxic than propylene oxide. The major documented adverse effects in humans have been irritation of the eyes, nasal passages and skin. In animals, however, respiratory problems, pulmonary haemorrhage, nephrosis and nasal-cavity lesions were noted in acute exposures to very high concentrations of 1,2-epoxybutane. No consistent teratogenic effects have been demonstrated in animals. IARC has determined that there is limited evidence for the carcinogenicity of 1,2-epoxybutane in experimental animals.
When 1,2-epoxypropane (propylene oxide) is compared to ethylene oxide, another epoxy compound commonly used in sterilization of surgical/hospital supplies, propylene oxide is considered to be far less toxic to humans. Exposure to this chemical has been associated with irritant effects on the eyes and skin, respiratory tract irritation, and CNS depression, ataxia, stupor and coma (the latter effects have thus far been significantly demonstrated only in animals). In addition, 1,2-epoxypropane has been shown to act as a direct alkylating agent in various tissues, and thus the possibility of carcinogenic potential is raised. Several animal studies have strongly implicated the compound’s carcinogenicity as well. The major adverse effects which have thus far been definitively demonstrated in humans involve burning or blistering of the skin when prolonged contact with non-volatilized chemical has occurred. This has been shown to occur even with low concentrations of propylene oxide. Corneal burns attributed to the chemical have also been reported.
Vinylcyclohexene dioxide. The irritation produced by the pure compound after application on rabbit skin resembles the oedema and reddening of first-degree burns. Skin application of vinylcyclohexene dioxide in mice produces a carcinogenic effect (squamous-cell carcinomas or sarcomas); intraperitoneal administration in rats caused analogous effects (sarcomas of the peritoneal cavity). The substance has proved to be mutagenic in Salmonella typhimurium TA 100; it also produced a significant increase in mutations in Chinese hamster cells. It should be treated as a substance with carcinogenic potential, and appropriate engineering and hygienic controls should be in place.
In industrial experience vinylcyclohexene dioxide has been shown to have skin irritant properties and to cause dermatitis: a severe vesiculation of both feet has been observed in a worker who had put on shoes contaminated by the compound. Eye injury is also a definite hazard. Studies on chronic effects are not available.
2,3-Epoxypropanol. Based on experimental studies with mice and rats, glycidol was found to cause eye and lung irritation. The LC50 for a 4-h exposure of mice was found to be 450 ppm, and for an 8-h exposure of rats it was 580 ppm. However, at concentrations of 400 ppm of glycidol, rats exposed for 7 h a day for 50 days showed no evidence of systemic toxicity. After the first few exposures, slight eye irritation and respiratory distress were noted.
Ethylene oxide (ETO) is a highly dangerous and toxic chemical. It reacts exothermically and is potentially explosive when heated or placed in contact with alkali metal hydroxides or highly active catalytic surfaces. Therefore when in use in industrial areas it is best if it is tightly controlled and confined to closed or automated processes. The liquid form of ethylene oxide is relatively stable. The vapour form, in concentrations as low as 3%, is very flammable and potentially explosive in the presence of heat or flame.
A wealth of information exists regarding the possible human health effects of this compound. Ethylene oxide is a respiratory, skin and eye irritant. At high concentrations it is also associated with central nervous system depression. Some individuals exposed to high concentrations of the chemical have described a strange taste in their mouths after the exposure. Delayed effects of high acute exposures include headache, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, cyanosis and pulmonary oedema. Additional symptoms that have been reported after acute exposures include drowsiness, fatigue, weakness and incoordination. Ethylene oxide solution can cause a characteristic burn on exposed skin anywhere from 1 to 5 h post-exposure. This burn often progresses from vesicles to coalescent blebs and desquamation. The skin wounds will often spontaneously resolve, with increased pigmentation resulting at the burn site.
Chronic or low-to-moderate prolonged exposures to ethylene oxide are associated with mutagenic activity. It is known to act as an alkylating agent in biological systems, binding to the genetic material and other electron-donating sites, such as haemoglobin, and causing mutations and other functional damage. ETO is associated with chromosomal damage. The ability of damaged DNA to repair itself was adversely affected by low but prolonged exposure to ETO in one study of exposed human subjects. Some studies have linked ETO exposure with increased absolute lymphocyte counts in exposed workers; however, recent studies are not supportive of this association.
The carcinogenic potential of ethylene oxide has been demonstrated in several animal models. IARC has classified ethylene oxide as a Group 1 known human carcinogen. Leukaemia, peritoneal mesothelioma and certain brain tumours have been associated with long-term inhalation of ETO in rats and monkeys. Studies of exposure in mice have linked inhalation exposures to lung cancers and lymphomas. Both the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have concluded that ethylene oxide is a human carcinogen. The former conducted a large-scale study of over 18,000 ETO-exposed workers over a 16-year period and determined that the exposed individuals had greater than expected rates of blood and lymph cancers. Subsequent studies have found that no increased rates of these cancers have been associated with exposed workers. One of the major problems with these studies, and a possible reason for their contradictory nature, has been the inability to accurately quantify levels of exposure. For example, much of the available research on human carcinogenic effects of ETO has been done using exposed hospital sterilizer operators. Individuals who worked in these jobs prior to the 1970s most likely experienced higher exposures to ETO gas due to the technology and lack of local control measures in place at that time. (Safeguards in the use of ETO in health care settings are discussed in the Health care facilities and services chapter in this volume.)
Ethylene oxide has also been associated with adverse reproductive effects in both animals and humans. Dominant lethal mutations in reproductive cells have resulted in higher embryonic death rates in the offspring of ETO-exposed male and female mice and rats. Some studies have linked ethylene oxide exposure to increased rates of miscarriage in humans.
Adverse neurological and neuropsychiatric effects resulting from ethylene oxide exposure have been reported in animals and humans. Rats, rabbits and monkeys exposed to 357 ppm of ETO over a period of 48 to 85 days developed impairment of sensory and motor function, and muscle wasting and weakness of the hind limbs. One study found that human workers exposed to ETO demonstrated impaired vibratory sense and hypoactive deep tendon reflexes. The evidence of impaired neuropsychiatric functioning in humans exposed to low but prolonged levels of ethylene oxide is uncertain. Some studies and an increasing body of anecdotal evidence suggest that ETO is linked to CNS dysfunction and cognitive impairment—for example, clouded thinking, memory problems and slowed reaction times on certain types of tests.
One study of individuals exposed to ethylene oxide in a hospital setting suggested an association between that exposure and the development of ocular cataracts.
An additional hazard associated with exposure to ethylene oxide is the potential for the formation of ethylene chlorohydrin (2-chloroethanol), which may be formed in the presence of moisture and chloride ions. Ethylene chlorohydrin is a severe systemic poison, and exposure to the vapour has caused human fatalities.
Tetrahydrofuran (THF) forms explosive peroxides when exposed to air. Explosions may also occur when the compound is brought into contact with lithium-aluminium alloys. Its vapour and peroxides may cause irritation of the mucous membranes and skin, and it is a strong narcotic.
While limited data are available on the industrial experiences with THF, it is interesting to note that investigators that were engaged in animal experiments with this compound complained of severe occipital headaches and dullness after each experiment. Animals subjected to lethal doses of tetrahydrofuran fell into narcosis quickly, which was accompanied by muscular hypotonia and disappearance of corneal reflexes, and followed by coma and death. Single toxic doses caused giddiness, irritation of mucous membranes with copious flow of saliva and mucous, vomiting, a marked fall in blood pressure, and muscular relaxation, followed by prolonged sleep. Generally, the animals recovered from these doses and showed no evidence of biological changes. After repeated exposures, the effects included irritation of the mucous membranes, which may be followed by renal and hepatic alteration. Alcoholic beverages enhance the toxic effect.
Safety and Health Measures
The primary purposes of control measures for the epoxy compounds should be to reduce the potential for inhalation and skin contact. Wherever feasible, control at the source of contamination should be implemented with enclosure of the operation and/or the application of local exhaust ventilation. Where such engineering controls are not sufficient to reduce airborne concentrations to acceptable levels, respirators may be necessary to prevent pulmonary irritation and sensitization in exposed workers. Preferred respirators include gas masks with organic vapour cannisters and high-efficiency particulate filters or supplied-air respirators. All body surfaces should be protected against contact with epoxy compounds through the use of gloves, aprons, face shields, goggles and other protective equipment and clothing as necessary. Contaminated clothing should be removed as soon as possible and the affected areas of the skin washed with soap and water.
Safety showers, eyewash fountains and fire extinguishers should be located in areas where appreciable amounts of epoxy compounds are in use. Handwashing facilities, soap and water should be made available to involved employees.
The potential fire hazards associated with epoxy compounds suggest that no flames or other sources of ignition, such as smoking, be permitted in areas where the compounds are stored or handled.
Affected workers should, as necessary, be removed from emergency situations, and if the eyes or skin have been contaminated they should be flushed with water. Contaminated clothing should be promptly removed. If exposure is severe, hospitalization and observation for 72 h for delayed onset of severe pulmonary oedema is advisable.
When the epoxy compounds, such as ethylene oxide, are extremely volatile, stringent safeguards should be taken to prevent fire and explosion. These safeguards should include the control of ignition sources, including static electricity; the availability of foam, carbon dioxide or dry chemical fire extinguishers (if water is used on large fires, the hose should be equipped with a fogging nozzle); the use of steam or hot water to heat ethylene oxide or its mixtures; and storage away from heat and strong oxidizers, strong acids, alkalis, anhydrous chlorides or iron, aluminium or tin, iron oxide, and aluminium oxide.
Proper emergency procedures and protective equipment should be available to deal with spills or leaks of ethylene oxide. In case of a spill, the first step is to evacuate all personnel except those involved in the clean-up operations. All ignition sources in the area should be removed or shut down and the area well ventilated. Small quantities of spilled liquid can be absorbed on cloth or paper and allowed to evaporate in a safe place such as a chemical fume hood. Ethylene oxide should not be allowed to enter a confined space such as a sewer. Workers should not enter confined spaces where ethylene oxide has been stored without following proper operating procedures designed to ensure that toxic or explosive concentrations are not present. Whenever possible, ethylene oxide should be stored and used in closed systems or with adequate local exhaust ventilation.
All substances having carcinogenic properties, such as ethylene oxide and vinylcyclohexene dioxide, must be handled with extreme care to avoid contact with the workers’ skin or being inhaled during both production and use. Prevention of contact is also promoted by designing the work premises and process plant so as to preclude any leakage of the product (application of a slight negative pressure, hermetically sealed process and so on). Precautions are discussed more fully elsewhere in this Encyclopaedia.
Epoxy compounds tables
Table 1 - Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3- Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.
Acetates are derived from a reaction (called esterification) between acetic acid or an anhydrous compound containing an acetate group and the corresponding alcohol, with the elimination of water. Thus methyl acetate is obtained by the esterification of methyl alcohol with acetic acid in the presence of sulphuric acid as a catalyst. The reaction is reversible and must therefore be conducted with heat, eliminating water formed by the reaction. Ethyl acetate is obtained by the direct esterification of ethyl alcohol with acetic acid, a process which involves mixing acetic acid with an excess of ethyl alcohol and adding a small amount of sulphuric acid. The ester is separated and purified by distillation. Ethyl acetate is easily hydrolyzed in water, giving a slightly acid reaction. In another process the molecules of anhydrous acetaldehyde interact in the presence of aluminium ethoxide to produce the ester, which is purified by distillation. Propyl acetate and isopropyl acetate esters are produced by the reaction of acetic acid with the corresponding propyl alcohol in the presence of a catalyst.
Both butyl acetate and amyl acetate consist of mixtures of isomers. Thus butyl acetate comprises n-butyl acetate, sec-butyl acetate and isobutyl acetate. It is made by the esterification of n-butanol with acetic acid in the presence of sulphuric acid. n-Butanol is obtained by the fermentation of starch with Clostridium acetobutylicum. Amyl acetate is primarily a mixture of n-amyl acetate and isoamyl acetate. Its composition and characteristics depend on its grade. The flashpoints of the various grades vary from 17 to 35 °C.
The acetates are solvents for nitrocellulose, lacquers, leather finishes, paints and plastics. They are also used as flavouring agents and preservatives in the food industry, and fragrances and solvents in the perfume and cosmetics industries. Methyl acetate, generally mixed with acetone and methyl alcohol, is used in the plastics and artificial leather industries, and in the production of perfumes, colouring agents and lacquers. Ethyl acetate is a good solvent for nitrocellulose, fats, varnishes, lacquers, inks and airplane dopes; it is used in the production of smokeless powder, artificial leather, perfumes, photographic films and plates, and artificial silk. It is also a cleaning agent in the textile industry, and a flavouring agent for pharmaceuticals and food.
n-Propyl acetate and isopropyl acetate are solvents for plastics, inks and nitrocellulose in the production of lacquers. They are utilized in the manufacture of perfumes and insecticides, and in organic synthesis. Butyl acetate is a commonly used solvent in the production of nitrocellulose lacquers. It is also used in the manufacture of vinyl resins, artificial leather, photographic film, perfumes, and in the preserving of foodstuffs.
In its commercial form amyl acetate, a mixture of isomers, is used as a solvent for nitrocellulose in the manufacture of lacquers, and, because of its banana-like smell, it is used as a fragrance. Amyl acetate is useful in the manufacture of artificial leather, photographic film, artificial glass, celluloid, artificial silk, and furniture polish. Isoamyl acetate is used for dyeing and finishing textiles, perfuming shoe polish, and manufacturing artificial silk, leather, pearls, photographic films, celluloid cements, waterproof varnish and metallic paints. It is also used in artificial glass manufacturing and in the straw hat industry as a constituent of lacquers and stiffening solutions. Sodium acetate in used in tanning, photography, electroplating and preserving meat, as well as in the manufacture of soaps and pharmaceuticals.
Vinyl acetate primarily functions as an intermediate for the production of polyvinyl alcohol and polyvinyl acetals. It is also used in hair sprays and in the production of emulsion paint substances, finishing and impregnation materials, and glue. 2-Pentyl acetate has many of the same functions as the other acetates and serves as a solvent for chlorinated rubber, metallic paints, cements, linoleum, washable wallpaper, pearls, and coatings on artificial pearls.
Methyl acetate is flammable, and its vapour forms explosive mixtures with air at normal temperatures. High concentrations of vapour can cause irritation to the eyes and mucous membranes. Exposure to the vapours can also cause headache, drowsiness, dizziness, burning and tearing of the eyes, heart palpitations, as well as a constricted feeling in the chest and shortness of breath. Blindness arising from eye contact has also been reported.
Ethyl acetate is a flammable liquid and produces a vapour that forms explosive mixtures with air at normal temperatures. Ethyl acetate is an irritant of the conjunctive and mucous membrane of the respiratory tract. Animal experiments have shown that, at very high concentrations, the ester has narcotic and lethal effects; at concentrations of 20,000 to 43,000 ppm, there may be pulmonary oedema with haemorrhages, symptoms of central nervous system depression, secondary anaemia and damage of the liver. Lower concentrations in humans have caused irritation of the nose and pharynx; cases have also been known of irritation of the conjunctiva with temporary opacity of the cornea. In rare cases exposure may cause sensitization of the mucous membrane and eruptions of the skin.
The irritant effect of ethyl acetate is less strong than that of propyl acetate or butyl acetate. These two propyl acetate isomers are flammable, and their vapours form explosive mixtures with air at normal temperatures. Concentrations of 200 ppm can cause irritation of the eyes, and greater concentrations give rise to irritation of the nose and larynx. Amongst workers occupationally exposed to these esters, there have been cases of conjunctival irritation and reports of a feeling of constriction of the chest, and coughing; however, no cases of permanent or systemic effects have been found in exposed workers. Repeated contact of the liquid with the skin may lead to defatting and cracking.
Amyl acetate. All the isomers and grades of amyl acetate are flammable and evolve flammable mixtures of vapour in air. High concentrations (10,000 ppm for 5 h) can be lethal to guinea-pigs. The principal symptoms in cases of occupational exposure are headaches and irritation of the mucous membranes of the nose and of the conjunctiva. Other symptoms mentioned include vertigo, palpitations, gastrointestinal disorders, anaemia, cutaneous lesions, dermatitis and adverse effects on the liver. Amyl acetate is also a defatting agent, and prolonged exposure may produce dermatitis. Butyl acetate is significantly more irritating than ethyl acetate. In addition, it can exert behavioural symptoms similar to amyl acetate.
Hexyl acetate and benzyl acetate are used industrially and are flammable, but their vapour pressures are low and, unless they are heated, they are unlikely to produce flammable concentrations of vapour. Animal experiments indicate that the toxic properties of these acetates are greater than those of amyl acetate; however, in practice, due to their low volatility, their effect on workers is limited to local irritation. There are few data upon which to evaluate hazards.
Cyclohexyl acetate can exert extreme narcotic effects in animals and appears to be a stronger irritant experimentally that is amyl acetate; however, there are insufficient data on human exposure to evaluate. The chemical does not tend to accumulate in the body, and many effects appear to be reversible.
Vinyl acetate is transformed metabolically into acetaldehyde, which raises a question of carcinogenicity. Based on this and on the positive results of animal assays, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified vinyl acetate as a Group 2B carcinogen, possibly carcinogenic to humans. In addition, the chemical can be irritating to the upper respiratory tract and eyes. It is defatting to the skin.
Table 1- Chemical information.
Table 2 - Health hazards.
Table 3 - Physical and chemical hazards.
Table 4 - Physical and chemical properties.