Ammonia is a toxic, flammable gas that finds many applications in various industries. A majority of food processing plants make use of ammonia in its refrigeration systems. However, workers employed in facilities that use ammonia need to be trained in safe handling and emergency response training, to ensure the safety of workers and protection of equipment in the facility. This is primarily due to the harmful effect of ammonia on the human body.

Ammonia can cause adverse reaction in the skin and eyes. When inhaled, ammonia can impact the lungs, leading to death. Read this article to learn about ammonia, its dangers and why you should invest in ammonia detection equipment.

Ammonia In Vapor Form Can Be Deadly

Ammonia in liquid form is usually found in piping and vessels within a plant. When an ammonia leak occurs, it is exposed to atmospheric conditions, causing it to turn to vapor state. Ammonia expands about 850 times, when it is in its vapor state, which makes it deadly and difficult to control. Even if the leakage is a small amount, the consequences can be dangerous.

Donald M. Jones said in a recent article:

“Piping and vessels typically found within a plant may contain ammonia liquid under pressure. During an uncontrolled release or when a leak occurs, the escaping liquid ammonia is exposed to the lower pressure of our atmosphere. The liquid ammonia immediately begins to boil, and it reverts back to a gas (or vapor) state.

Like most fluids, it occupies a much greater volume as a vapor than as a liquid. As a vapor or gas, it expands about 850 times its liquid volume, so even a small liquid leak can yield a large quantity of vapor.”

Know The Symptoms Of Exposure To Anhydrous Ammonia

The symptoms associated with exposure to anhydrous ammonia include irritation to the eyes, nose and throat, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, burns, blisters or frostbite and pink frothy sputum. Anhydrous ammonia when released, sinks closer to the ground, increasing the risk of exposure. This makes it an even greater challenge to protect workers and evacuate them to safety in the event of an ammonia leak.

As shared in a recent news article:

“According to the Centers for Disease Control, anhydrous ammonia, a colorless gas with pungent, suffocating fumes, is used as an agricultural fertilizer and industrial refrigerant…. Because the vapors hug the ground initially, the chances for humans to be exposed are greater than with other gases. Symptoms of anhydrous ammonia exposure include:

  • eye, nose, and throat irritation
  • breathing difficulty, wheezing, or chest pain
  • pulmonary edema, pink frothy sputum
  • burns, blisters and frostbite.

Exposure can be fatal at high concentrations.”

Industrial facilities that use a significantly large amount of ammonia should invest in ammonia detection equipment to identify leaks and train workers to escape to safety. Ammonia can prove to be fatal, if not handled properly. Work with a professional gas detection company to find the best gas detection solution for your need.

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