Anhydrous ("without water") ammonia (NH3) is a chemical covered under Part 36 - Chemical and Biological Substances of the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Regulation. It comes in both gas and liquid forms, is colourless and has a suffocating, pungent odour.
NH3 is hygroscopic, which means that it seeks water from the nearest available source. This includes any moisture found in the human body. When NH3 combines with water, a corrosive substance is formed.
Low concentrations (<25 parts per million or ppm) of NH3 will irritate the eyes, skin and respiratory tract and produce temporary symptoms such as coughing and wheezing (through inhalation).
Exposure to higher concentrations (>35 ppm) of NH3 for any length of time is extremely dangerous and can result in immediate and permanent severe chemical burns to the eyes, skin and respiratory tract. NH3 burns can cause pulmonary edema, a condition in which the respiratory system becomes paralyzed by pain, resulting in respiratory failure, cardiac arrest and death.
Appropriate actions should be taken to eliminate or reduce the risk of exposure to ammonia in the workplace.
Check out our Shop Talk, tip card and safe work procedure template on anhydrous ammonia. (Below the FAQs are more resources related to anhydrous ammonia.)