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Review and evaluation of recent literature relevant to an occupational standard for sulfuric acid.

Sevin IF
Cincinnati, OH: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. ##-###, 1980 Jul; :1-27
New information on the effects of sulfuric-acid (7664939) is reviewed in an updated supplement to the 1974 NIOSH criteria document accompanying the recommended exposure standard. In 1974, a permissible exposure limit of 1 milligram (mg) sulfuric-acid mist per cubic meter (m3) of air as a time weighted average was recommended. Issues arising since that time include the use of catalytic converters and acid rain. New information on sampling and analysis, work practices and engineering controls, and toxic effects reported in humans and animals exposed to sulfuric-acid is reported. Accidental ingestion of sulfuric-acid still occurs, probably as a result of improper labeling. Animal studies on mucociliary clearance of sulfuric-acid have yielded inconsistent results. These inconsistencies are attributed to differences in species or age, aerosol size, or relative humidity. Rats are unaffected by sulfuric- acid even in high concentrations, whereas monkeys are quite sensitive. Larger aerosols of respirable size are more lethal to guinea-pigs than are smaller aerosols, but the smaller aerosols cause more severe pulmonary damage. Toxicity of sulfuric-acid is not increased by simultaneous exposure to other air pollutants. Methods of sampling and analysis reviewed are not considered improvements over the accepted NIOSH method. Increased sulfuric- acid concentrations released into the atmosphere from catalytic converters are not directly relevant to worker populations. The author concludes that a decrease in the permissible exposure limit for sulfuric-acid could be warranted on the basis of animal studies. The practical lower limit for any revised standard is about considered in any revision of exposure limits.
NIOSH-Author; Acids; Chemical-properties; Biological-factors; Pulmonary-system-disorders; Exposure-levels; Biological-effects; Toxicology
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National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: March 11, 2019
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division