Ammonium chloride

2020-10-09

Ammonium chloride is an inorganic white crystalline chloride. It is soluble in water. Its chemical formula is NH4CI. It is a product from the reaction between hydrochloric acid and ammonia. [1,2,3]

Uses [2,4]

Ammonium chloride is used across a range of applications in various industries. It is used aa an ingredient in fertilisers, as an electrolyte in dry cells and in tinning. The chemical is used to clean soldering irons, in tanning and in washing powders and in the manufacture of dyes. It is also used in cold and cough medicines, and in veterinary medicine to prevent urinary stones.

Routes of Exposure [5]

A person can be exposed to different forms of ammonium chloride by multiple routes of exposure, including skin and eye contact, ingestion and inhalation.

Health Effects

Ammonium chloride poisoning affects a range of systems, including the integumentary and respiratory systems.

Acute Effects [4]

Severity of symptoms depend on the level and type of exposure.

Inhalation of ammonium chloride fumes can result in irritation of the nose, throat and lungs, including coughing and a sore throat. People with impaired respiratory functions, such as those with emphysema much incur further damage if the chemical is inhaled. Ingestion of the chemical could result in serious negative health consequences, including death. Eye contact with the chemical may cause corneal injury, pain, redness, inflammation and/or significant ocular lesions.

Chronic Effects [4]

Chronic exposure to ammonium chloride is not thought to cause major adverse health effects. However, as a matter of course, exposure to all routes should be minimised. Long term exposure to high concentrations of the chemical in dust form may result in changes of lung function, e.g. pneumoconiosis. This is caused by chemical particles less than 0.5 micron entering and staying in the lung. A major symptom is breathlessness.

Safety

~h2First Aid Measures [4]

  • Ingestion: If swallowed, contact a medical professional without delay. If the patient is more than 15 minutes away from a hospital, or unless otherwise instructed, induce vomiting ONLY IF THE PATIENT IS CONSCIOUS.
  • Skin contact: Remove all contaminated clothing, footwear and accessories. Do not re-wear clothing until it has been thoroughly decontaminated. Immediately rinse affected areas with plenty of soap and water. Contact a doctor in the event of continued irritation.
  • Eye contact: Flush eyes (including under the eyelids), with water for at least 15 minutes. Removal of contact lenses should only be done by skilled personnel. Contact a medical professional immediately.
  • Inhalation: If the person inhales fumes, combustion products or aerosols, remove them from the contaminated site. Other measures are usually unnecessary. If in doubt, contact the poisons information centre.  
  • General: Never administer anything by mouth to an unconscious, exposed person.

  • Exposure Controls/Personal Protection [4]

  • Engineering controls: Emergency eyewash fountains and quick-drench areas should be accessible in the immediate area of the potential exposure. Ensure there is adequate ventilation. Use a local exhaust ventilation or process enclosure, to limit the amount of chemical dust in the air.

  • Personal protection: Safety glasses, protective and dustproof clothing, gloves (protection class 5 or higher), a P.V.C apron and an appropriate mask or dusk respirator. Do not wear contact lenses as they could absorb chemicals in the air. Wear impervious shoes. Other protection could include barrier cream and skin cleansing cream. For specifications regarding other PPE, follow the guidelines set in your jurisdiction.

Regulation [5]

~h2United States:

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has set a Time Weighted Average (TWA) concentration limit for ammonium chloride (fume) of 10mg/m3.

Australia [4]

Australia Exposure Standards have set a TWA for ammonium chloride of 10mg/m3.

References

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Ammonium-chloride

https://www.britannica.com/science/ammonium-chloride

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonium_chloride

Jr.chemwatch.net

https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npg/npgd0029.html