Hazard Watch: How much of a concern is ammonia in your workplace?

As a colourless alkaline compound composed of nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3), ammonia can have a severe impact on employees in the workplace. Our next Hazard Watch article explores ammonia and how you can protect your workforce from its harmful effects.

The most common use for ammonia is as a fertiliser, but it is also used in the creation of textiles, plastics, a refrigerant gas, as well as in the purification of water.

Ammonia has a very distinct odour and it can be smelt at levels between 0.6 – 53ppm. What is more concerning is that it can cause nose and throat irritation from levels as low as 24ppm, if an individual is exposed for a period of 2-6 hours. 

What are the health impacts from exposure to ammonia?

Even if you are briefly exposed to concentrated levels of ammonia (1500ppm or thereabouts), it has the potential to cause serious health conditions. This can include pulmonary oedema but at these levels, it could also cause irreversible damage to the lungs and respiratory tract. Therefore, it is crucial that in workplaces where ammonia gas may be stored in cylinders, a thorough workplace exposure monitoring programme is in place to help protect employees.


Protecting your workforce from ammonia exposure

The current workplace exposure limit, as set by the HSE, for ammonia is 50ppm over an 8-hour period. Workplace exposure monitoring programmes should be in place to regularly assess the levels of ammonia, to ensure that this legal limit is not exceeded.

Sample media, such as Umex 500-300 and active monitoring tubes, SKC 226-10-06, are specifically designed to capture ammonia, which can then be analysed to determine the levels of exposure.

Workplaces should be well ventilated and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, should be available to all employees. Safety protocols should be in place to ensure lone workers are protected as well. Appropriate safety training must be given to all employees to be able to assist colleagues who may be exposed and could fall ill, whilst at work.

How can we help?

RPS provides UKAS accredited analysis, as well as the provision of suitable media to specifically monitor the levels of ammonia in the workplace, in line with NIOSH 2016 methods. This can provide assurances to employees knowing that they are being protected whilst in the workplace.   


Contact our laboratories

Get in touch

Your contact information:

All fields are mandatory *

Get in touch

Your contact information:

All fields are mandatory *