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J Expo Anal Environ Epidemiol. 2005 Nov;15(6):534-44.

Ammonia exposure and hazard assessment for selected household cleaning product uses.

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Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, University of California, Irvine, California, USA.


There is scant information pertaining to airborne ammonia exposures from either spills or common household uses of ammonia-containing floor and tile cleaners or from spray-on glass cleaners. We assessed instantaneous and event-specific time-weighted average (TWA) exposures to airborne ammonia during spills and use (per label directions) of a household floor and tile cleaner and two spray-on window cleaners. Airborne ammonia levels measured at breathing zone height (BZH) above the spilled floor and tile cleaner product reached 500 p.p.m. within 5 min, while levels for spilled window cleaner were below 8 p.p.m. TWA exposures were assessed while tile walls and floors were cleaned in three different bathrooms of a residence, and during use of a spray-on glass cleaner while washing several large windows in an office setting. NIOSH Method 6015 was utilized with concurrent field measurements every 60 s using a Drager PAC III monitor with an electrochemical cell detector. Peak ammonia levels ranged from 16 to 28 p.p.m. and short-term TWA concentrations ranged from 9.4 to 13 p.p.m. during mixing (0.1% ammonia) and cleaning tiles in the three bathrooms. Ammonia exposures while using spray-on window cleaner were over 10-fold lower (TWA=0.65 p.p.m.). Use of the floor and tile cleaner mixed at 0.2% ammonia led to peak airborne ammonia levels within 3-5 min at 36-90 p.p.m., and use of full strength cleaner (3% ammonia) led to peak ammonia levels of 125 to >200 p.p.m. within 2-3 min. Spillage or intentional use of the full strength floor and tile cleaner led to airborne ammonia concentrations that exceed occupational short-term exposure limits, while spillage or use of the spray-on window cleaner did not approach potentially hazardous airborne ammonia levels and likely represents a minimal inhalation health hazard. We conclude that routine household uses of ammonia are unlikely to produce significant exposures when using standard cleaning solutions (0.1-0.2%), but spillage or use of concentrated ammonia solutions (e.g., 3%) in poorly ventilated areas can lead to potentially hazardous airborne ammonia exposures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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