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Nitric Acid

Overview

CAS No. 7697-37-2

Nitric acid (HNO₃) is a colorless liquid with yellow or red fumes with an acrid odor. Exposure to nitric acid can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and mucous membrane; it can also cause delayed pulmonary edema, pneumonitis, bronchitis, and dental erosion. Nitric acid is highly corrosive. Workers may be harmed from exposure to nitric acid. The level of exposure depends upon the dose, duration, and work being done.

Nitric acid is used in many industries. It’s used in the manufacture of fertilizers, dyes, and explosives. Nitric acid is also used in the polymer industry. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to nitric acid include the following:

  • Factory workers in plants that produce nitric acid
  • Factory workers in plants that manufacture explosives
  • Workers in facilities that use nitric acid

NIOSH recommends that employers use Hierarchy of Controls to prevent injuries.  If you work in an industry that uses nitric acid, please read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheets for hazard information. Visit NIOSH’s page on Managing Chemical Safety in the Workplace to learn more about controlling chemical workplace exposures.

The following resources provide information about occupational exposure to nitric acid. Useful search terms for nitric acid include “aqua fortis,”  “engravers acid,” “hydrogen nitrate,” “red fuming nitric acid,” “white fuming nitric acid.”

NIOSH Chemical Resources

Logo of NIOSH Pocket Guide

NIOSH Pocket Guide

The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards (NPG) helps workers, employers, and occupational health professionals recognize and control workplace chemical hazards.

Logo of Manual of Analytical Methods.

Manual of Analytical Methods

The NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM) is a collection of methods for sampling and analysis of contaminants in workplace air, and in the blood and urine of workers who are occupationally exposed.

Logo of Health Hazard Evaluations consisting of three letters: HHE

Health Hazard Evaluations

The Health Hazard Evaluation Program (HHE) conducts onsite investigations of possible worker exposure to chemicals. Search the HHE database for more information on nitric acid.

NIOSH Resources

Selected Publications

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International Resources

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