Cinnaminson, New Jersey, February 10th
Sodium hydroxide, also commonly referred to as lye or caustic soda, is an inorganic chemical compound manufactured for use in a number of industries. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) describes sodium hydroxide as being caustic and having no smell. At room temperature, sodium hydroxide appears as solid white crystals.
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) reports that sodium hydroxide is used to manufacture soaps, rayon, paper, explosives, dyestuffs, and petroleum products. It is also used in processing cotton fabric, laundering and bleaching, metal cleaning and processing, oxide coating, electroplating and electrolytic extracting. Sodium hydroxide is also commonly present in commercial drain and oven cleaners.
NIOSH provides examples of some workers potentially at risk of being exposed to sodium hydroxide. They include those who:
- Use bleach, oven cleaners, and drain cleaners
- Work in food processing plants
- Work in public water treatment plants
- Use sodium hydroxide for making paper, glass, detergents, soaps, and other products
- Mine alumina and produce aluminum
“There are a number of ways people can be harmed by exposure to sodium hydroxide,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “These include severe burns to tissue from contact and spontaneous vomiting, chest and abdominal pain, and difficulty swallowing from ingestion according to ATSDR. The agency also states that inhalation of low levels of sodium hydroxide as dusts, mists or aerosols may cause irritation of the nose, throat, and respiratory airways. Inhalation of higher levels can produce swelling or spasms of the upper airway leading to obstruction and loss of measurable pulse; inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the lungs may also occur. Long-term exposure to sodium hydroxide in the air may lead to ulceration of the nasal passages and chronic skin irritation. These are all reasons the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set a Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) and NIOSH has a Recommended Exposure Limit (REL) for sodium hydroxide.”
To help companies detect and monitor for exposure risks to sodium hydroxide and many other potential hazards, EMSL Analytical offers industrial hygiene and environmental testing services. They also recently sponsored an educational video about sodium hydroxide and potential occupational exposure risks that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/dHRxu0VR3EY
To learn more about this or other industrial hygiene, air quality, environmental, health and safety services, please visit www.EMSL.com, call (800)220-3675 or email info@EMSL.com.
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is one of the leading testing laboratories throughout the United States and Canada. EMSL is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider specializing in fast laboratory results for mold, bacteria, Legionella, USP <797>, pathogens, asbestos, lead, soot, char & ash from fires, VOC’s, odors, radon, formaldehyde, indoor air quality, microbiology, environmental, industrial hygiene, radiological, food, beverage & consumer products, and material testing services for the identification of unknown substances. EMSL services both professionals and the general public. EMSL maintains an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies including, but not limited to A2LA, AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), NVLAP, CDC ELITE, CPSC, CA ELAP, NY ELAP, TX DOH, NJDEP, and multiple other state accrediting agencies. Please visit our website at www.EMSL.com for a complete listing of accreditations. In addition, EMSL carries a wide range of Sampling Equipment and Investigative Products for environmental professionals.