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May 1994

Documentation for Immediately Dangerous To Life or Health Concentrations (IDLHs)


CAS number: 107-02-8

NIOSH REL: 0.1 ppm (0.25 mg/m3) TWA, 0.3 ppm (0.8 mg/m3) STEL

Current OSHA PEL: 0.1 ppm (0.25 mg/m3) TWA

1989 OSHA PEL: 0.1 ppm (0.25 mg/m3) TWA, 0.3 ppm (0.8 mg/m3) STEL

1993-1994 ACGIH TLV: 0.1 ppm (0.23 mg/m3) TWA, 0.3 ppm (0.67 mg/m3) STEL

Description of substance: Colorless or yellow liquid with a piercing, disagreeable odor.

LEL: 2.8% (10% LEL, 2,800 ppm)

Original (SCP) IDLH: 5 ppm

Basis for original (SCP) IDLH: The chosen IDLH is based on the statement by ACGIH [1971] that 5.5 ppm results in intense irritation and 10 ppm or more is lethal in a short time [Henderson and Haggard 1943]. According to MCA [1961], the irritation properties of acrolein are clearly evident at 1 ppm. ACGIH [1971] reported that 1 of 6 rats died after being exposed to 8 ppm for 4 hours and all died from exposure to 16 ppm [Smyth 1956].

Existing short-term exposure: 1989 American Industrial Hygiene Association guidelines

(AIHA) Emergency Response Planning Guidelines (ERPGs):
ERPG-1: 0.1 ppm (60-minute)
ERPG-2: 0.5 ppm (60-minute)
ERPG-3: 3 ppm (60-minute)

National Research Council [NRC 1984] Emergency Exposure Guidance Levels (EEGLs):
10-minute EEGL: 0.1 ppm
60-minute EEGL: 0.05 ppm (tentative)
24-hour EEGL: 0.01 ppm (tentative)


Lethal concentration data:

  LC50 LCLo   0.5-hr Derived
Species Reference (ppm) (ppm) Time LC (CF) Value
Mouse Albin 1962 875 ----- 1 min 280 ppm (0.32) 28 ppm
Mouse Albin 1962 175 ----- 10 min 121 ppm (0.69) 12 ppm
Dog Albin 1962 150 ----- 30 min 150 ppm (1.0) 15 ppm
Rat Carpenter et al. 1949 8 ----- 4 hr 16 ppm (2.0) 1.6 ppm
Rat Catilina et al. 1966 375 ----- 10 min 259 ppm (0.69) 26 ppm
Hamster Kruysse 1971 25.4 ----- 4 hr 51 ppm (2.0) 5.1 ppm
Cat Skog 1950 ----- 674 2 hr 1,078 ppm (1.6) 108 ppm
Rat Skog 1950 131 ----- 30 min 131 ppm (1.0) 13 ppm

Other animal data: RD50 (mouse), 1.68 [Alarie 1981].

Human data: It has been reported that 5.5 ppm results in intense irritation and marked lacrimation, after 60 seconds [Henderson and Haggard 1943]. Exposures to 1.8 ppm result in slight eye irritation after 1 minute and profuse lacrimation after 4 minutes [NRC 1981]. In volunteers exposed for 5 minutes, concentrations of 2 to 2.3 ppm produced severe irritation [Darley et al. 1960]. A 10-minute exposure at 8 ppm and a 5-minute exposure at 1.2 ppm elicited extreme irritation described as "only just tolerable" [Sim and Pattle 1957].

Revised IDLH: 2 ppm

Basis for revised IDLH: The revised IDLH for acrolein is 2 ppm based on acute inhalation toxicity data in humans [Darley et al. 1960; Henderson and Haggard 1943; NRC 1981; Sim and Pattle 1957].


  1. ACGIH [1971]. Acrolein. In: Documentation of the threshold limit values for substances in workroom air. 3rd ed. Cincinnati, OH: American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists, p. 5.
  2. Alarie Y [1981]. Dose-response analysis in animal studies: prediction of human responses. Environ Health Perspect 42:9-13.
  3. Albin TB [1962]. Handling and toxicology. In: Acrolein, Smith CW, ed. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., pp. 234-239.
  4. Carpenter CP, Smyth HF Jr, Pozzani UC [1949]. The assay of acute vapor toxicity and the grading and interpretation of results on 96 chemical compounds. J Ind Hyg Toxicol 31(6):343-346.
  5. Catilina P, Thieblot L, Champeix J [1966]. Experimental respiratory lesions by inhalation of acrolein in the rat. Arch Mal Prof 27:857-867 (in French).
  6. Darley EF, Middleton JT, Garber MJ [1960]. Plant damage and eye irritation from ozone-hydrocarbon reactions. J Agri Food Chem 8:483-485.
  7. Henderson Y, Haggard HW [1943]. Noxious gases. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, p. 138.
  8. Kruysse A [1971]. Acute inhalation toxicity of acrolein in hamsters (Report R 3516). The Netherlands: Central Institute for Nutrition and Food Research; TNO.
  9. MCA [1961]. Chemical safety data sheet SD-85: properties and essential information for safe handling and use of acrolein. Washington, DC: Manufacturing Chemists Association, pp. 1-15.
  10. NRC [1981]. Formaldehyde and other aldehydes. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, National Research Council, pp. 234-241.
  11. NRC [1984]. Emergency and continuous exposure limits for selected airborne contaminants. Vol. 1. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, Committee on Toxicology, Board on Toxicology and Environmental Health Hazards, Commission on Life Sciences, National Research Council, pp. 27-34.
  12. Pattle R, Collumbine H [1956]. Toxicity of some atmospheric pollutants. Br Med J 2:913-916.
  13. Philippin C, Gilgen A, Grandjean E [1970]. Toxicological and physiological investigation on acrolein inhalation in the mouse. Int Arch Arbeitsmed 26:281-305 (translated).
  14. Sangyo Igaku (Japanese Journal of Industrial Health) [1977]; 19:367 (in Japanese).
  15. Sim VM, Pattle RE [1957]. Effect of possible smog irritants on human subjects. JAMA 165(15):1908-1913.
  16. Skog E [1950]. A toxicological investigation of lower aliphatic aldehydes. I. Toxicity of formaldehyde, acetaldehyde, propionaldehyde and butyraldehyde; as well as acrolein and crotonaldehyde. Acta Pharmacol Toxicol 6(4):299-318.
  17. Smyth HF Jr [1956]. Improved communication: hygienic standards for daily inhalation. Am Ind Hyg Assoc Q 17(2):129-185.
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