Sulfuric Acid

Emergency Information

If you come in contact with sulfuric acid, act immediately:

  • Flush the exposed area with water.
  • Rinse eye(s) with ample amounts of water.
  • Remove wet or contaminated clothing.
  • If swallowed, seek immediate medical attention.

Source: International Chemical Safety Card


Sulfuric acid (H2S04) 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 harm depends upon the following conditions: dose, duration, type of exposure, personal traits, habits of the worker, and whether other chemicals are present.

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

To prevent contact with the skin or eyes, workers should wear personal protective equipment. The following resources provide health and safety information to help employers and workers lower the risk of exposure.

NIOSH Resources

NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards
Exposure limits, Respirator Recommendations, First Aid, more…
The Pocket Guide is a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes found in the work environment. Key data provided for each chemical/substance includes name (including synonyms/trade names), structure/formula, CAS/RTECS Numbers, DOT ID, conversion factors, exposure limits, IDLH, chemical and physical properties, measurement methods, personal protection, respirator recommendations, symptoms, and first aid.

International Chemical Safety Cards
An ICSC summarizes essential health and safety information on chemicals for their use at the “shop floor” level by workers and employers in factories, agriculture, construction and other work places.

Documentation for Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health Concentrations (IDLH)
The IDLH documents the criteria and information sources that have been used by NIOSH to determine immediately dangerous to life or health concentrations.

NIOSH Manual of Analytical Methods (NMAM)
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.

Worker Notification Program
NIOSH conducts research to prevent illnesses and injuries in the workplace. The NIOSH Worker Notification Program notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of these research studies.

Criteria for a Recommended Standard: Occupational Exposure to Sulfuric Acid
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 74-128 (1974)
Presents a standard to prevent the adverse effects of exposure to Sulfuric Acid over a working lifetime.

Occupational Safety and Health Guideline for Sulfuric AcidCdc-pdf

Related Resources

ATSDR ToxFAQs for Sulfuric Acid

Toxicological Profile for Sulfuric Acid (ATSDR)

OSHA (Safety and Health Topics): Sulfuric AcidExternal

New Jersey Hazardous Substance Fact Sheets: Sulfuric AcidCdc-pdfExternal

CCOHS (Chemical Profiles): Sulfuric AcidExternal

Acute Exposure Guideline Levels (AEGLs) (EPA): Sulfuric AcidExternal

NLM (Hazardous Substance Data Bank): Sulfuric AcidExternal

NLM (Household Products Database): Sulfuric AcidExternal

NLM (Haz-Map): Sulfuric AcidExternal

NLM (Medline Plus): Sulfuric Acid PoisoningExternal

NTP Report on Carcinogens (Twelfth Edition): Sulfuric AcidExternal

IARC Monographs (Vol. 54): Strong Inorganic Acid MistsCdc-pdfExternal

European chemical Substances Information System (ESIS): Sulfuric AcidExternal

United Nations Environmental Programme (OECD SIDS): Sulfuric AcidCdc-pdfExternal

Page last reviewed: April 24, 2018