Strong Inorganic Acid Mists Containing Sulfuric Acid

Copper smelting plant

Copper smelting and other manufacturing processes generate mists containing sulfuric acid.

What are strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid?

At room temperature, sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless, oily, corrosive liquid. Strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid may be generated during various manufacturing processes.

How are people exposed to strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid?

The major routes of occupational exposure are inhalation, ingestion, or absorption through the skin. Workers with potential exposure include those involved in manufacturing phosphate fertilizer, isopropanol, sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and lead batteries. Exposure may also occur during copper smelting, pickling (removing scale and oxides from metal surfaces), and other acid treatment of metals.

Which cancers are associated with exposure to strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid?

Occupational exposure to strong inorganic acid mists containing sulfuric acid is associated with increased risks of laryngeal and lung cancers.

How can exposures be reduced?

The U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration has information about exposure limits for sulfuric acid.

Selected References:

  • International Agency for Research on Cancer. Mists from Strong Inorganic Acids, IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans, Volume 100F. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 2012. Also available online. Last accessed February 20, 2019.
  • International Agency for Research on Cancer. Summaries and Evaluations: Occupational Exposures to Mists and Vapours from Sulfuric Acid and Other Strong Inorganic Acids. Lyon, France: World Health Organization, 1997. Also available online. Last accessed February 20, 2019.
  • National Toxicology Program. Strong Inorganic Acid Mists Containing Sulfuric Acid, Fourteenth Edition. Triangle Park, NC: National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety, 2016. Also available online. Last accessed February 20, 2019.
  • Reviewed: February 20, 2019

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