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Sulfuric Acid


CAS No.7664-93-9

Sulfuric acid (H2SO4) is a corrosive substance, destructive to the skin, eyes, teeth, and lungs. Severe exposure can result in death.  Workers may be harmed from exposure to sulfuric acid. The level of exposure depends on dose, duration, and type of work being done.

Sulfuric acid is used in many industries. It’s used to produce other chemicals, explosives and glue; to refine petroleum; to cure metal; and in lead-based car batteries. Some examples of workers at risk of being exposed to sulfuric acid include the following:

  • Outdoor workers who work in areas where coal, oil, or gas are burned
  • Mechanics who handle dirty batteries
  • Plumbers and contractors who come in contact with toilet bowl cleaners mixed with water
  • Workers in publishing, printing or photography shops
  • Fire fighters and steelworkers who are exposed to acid mists

NIOSH recommends that employers use the Hierarchy of Controls to prevent or reduce worker exposures. If you work in an industry that uses sulfuric acid, read chemical labels and the accompanying Safety Data Sheet 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 sulfuric acid. Useful search terms for sulfuric acid include “battery acid,” “hydrogen sulfate,” “oil of vitriol,” and “sulfuric acid (aqueous).”

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