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Ammonia safety: How to respond to emergencies involving ammonia and Safe handling of ammonia

ammonia safety photo

Ammonia is an industrial chemical with vast applications. Because of its immense use, handling it comes with its own risks. However, understanding and implementing the proper safety measures is essential to prevent accidents and promote effective emergency response during ammonia-induced emergencies. This article will look at crucial aspects of ammonia gas safety, the safe handling of ammonia, and how best to respond to an emergency involving ammonia. 

What is ammonia and its properties?

Ammonia is a colorless gas with a pungent smell of nitrogen and hydrogen atoms. It also exists as a liquid and as a solid. Ammonia is common in nature produced by the human body and nature, such as water, air and, soil, and even bacteria, and it often forms a building block for most pharmaceutical products and commercial cleaning products. The human body produces ammonia during the breakdown of food into ammonia and amino acids. It is used in fertilizers, and it supports the growth of plants. Ammonia is highly soluble in water, producing ammonia salt when it reacts with an acid. It has a density of 0.86kg/m3.

Effects of Ammonia in the human body

When inhaled by humans, ammonia gas in high concentrations immediately burns the nose, throat, and respiratory tract. Ammonia gas is irritating and corrosive. When it reaches the respiratory tract, it can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, causing respiratory damage. It can equally cause olfactory fatigue.

Ammonia in contact with skin or eyes can result in rapid skin and eye irritation. A higher concentration of ammonia can cause severe injury and burns. Concentrated ammonia can result in skin burns, frostbite, permanent eye damage, and even blindness.

Ammonia ingested through swallowing may cause corrosive damage to the mouth, throat, and stomach, although it does not often result in systemic poisoning.


Hazards associated with ammonia.

Ammonia gas is highly flammable and can quickly start a fire or cause explosions, which are hazards associated with it.

Safe handling practices for ammonia gas

  • Store Ammonia gas in either steel or plastic storage tanks. Steel tanks are durable and can withstand adverse weather conditions.
  • Use PPE whenever you are handling Ammonia gas. The PPE includes Gloves, goggles, and a mask.
  • Always seek medical attention in the event of an emergency.
  • Ensure there is proper labeling and signage on the ammonia storage tank.
  • Ensure there is adequate ventilation around the ammonia storage tank.
  • Educate workers on safety and handling, storing, and transporting ammonia gas.
  • Always inspect the ammonia storage tank with regular inspection, repairs, and maintenance.
  • Check for leaks, cracks, and signs of damage on the body of the storage tank.

Emergency response strategy for emergencies involving ammonia.

In the event of ammonia exposure, Immediate decontamination with copious amounts of water is essential. This can be done with the assistance of measures such as the administration of humidified oxygen, bronchodilation, and airway management.


Ammonia safety is essential in the environment where ammonia is present. Knowing how to respond to emergencies and safely handle ammonia will go a long way, too. However, adequate precautions are also needed to protect human lives against ammonia exposure.

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