Sodium bicarbonate


Sodium bicarbonate, aka baking soda or bicarbonate of soda, is a soluble odourless white crystalline powder. It is a salt that breaks down to form bicarbonate and sodium in water. [1,2,4]

Uses [2,3]

Sodium bicarbonate is used across a range of applications in various industries. It is an alkaline solution, meaning it neutralises acids. In this capacity it is used as an antacid—for conditions such as heartburn and indigestion. It can also be used to help contrast-induced nephropathy, stomach ulcers, dental plaque, and tooth discolouration. Besides its use as an antacid, bicarbonate of soda is used in baking as a leavening agent.

Routes of Exposure [5]

Sodium bicarbonate can be taken intravenously and orally.

Health Effects

Sodium bicarbonate poisoning affects a range of systems, including the integumentary and respiratory systems.

Acute Effects [6]

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

If a high concentration of chemical dust is inhaled, it can result in coughing, sneezing, or a sore throat. If large amounts of the chemical compound are ingested, it can cause gastrointestinal problems or abdominal pain. Eye contact with the chemical can result in mild irritation, including temporary redness and temporary impairment of vision.

Chronic Effects [6]

Chronic exposure to sodium bicarbonate is toxic to multiple body systems. Long term skin exposure to the chemical may cause dermatitis, characterised by skin redness and swelling, which may cause blistering and scaling and thickening of the epidermis. Although this chemical is not thought to cause other long term effects, exposure should be minimised as a matter of course.


~h2First Aid Measures [6]

  • Ingestion: If swallowed, immediately give the victim water to drink. First aid is usually not required; if in doubt, contact the poisons hotline.
  • 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 [6]

  • 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, a P.V.C apron and an appropriate mask or dusk respirator. 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 [8]

~h2United States:

The Time Weighted Average (TWA) for sodium bicarbonate has been set at 10mg/m3.

Australia [7]

No TWA has been set specifically for this chemical. Instead, there is a blanket limit of 10mg/m3 for dusts when no other limits have been specified.