In the food industry the use of ammonia is the method used for the cooling system, in the 1950s specifically in 1859 Ferdinand Carré designed a more complex system with ammonia. Later it goes to food processing, for example, cooling of meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, milk, cheese and drinks, as well as for freezing ice cream.
Currently, practically all the food that needs cold in your chain, before adding them to our shopping cart, at some point goes through a plant or warehouse that uses ammonia for refrigeration.
What could happen? What are the main health hazards related to breathing and ammonia gas?
Nose and throat irritation at concentrations as low as 24 ppm after 2-6 hour exposure are some of the symptoms that may occur.
A 10-minute exposure at 30 ppm is slightly irritating, while 50 ppm can be considered moderately irritating.
At 500 ppm, immediate severe nose and throat irritation occurs.
High levels of ammonia gas dissolve in the skin’s moisture, forming the corrosive ammonium hydroxide. At 10,000 ppm, ammonia is slightly irritating to skin moisture.
At 20,000 ppm, the effects are more pronounced and at 30,000 chemical burns can occur with blisters. These same levels of exposure will almost certainly be fatal due to the health effects of inhalation.
Exposure limits for toxicity are established by each country or regulatory entity. In Mexico, NOM-010-STPS-2014 establishes the exposure limit for 8 hours at 25ppm and the short-time exposure limit (15 minutes) at 35ppm. The level immediately dangerous to health with irreversible effects is 300 ppm. In the case of explosiveness, Ammonia forms explosive mixtures in concentrations from 15.4 (LEL)% Vol to 33.6% Vol (UEL).
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