"This advisory recommends ways Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPCs) and chemical facilities can minimize risks posed by the presence of ammonia in their communities. Ammonia is toxic if swallowed or inhaled and can irritate or burn the skin, eyes, nose or throat through inhalation or direct contact. Careless storage or mixing of ammonia with other chemicals can cause the release of toxic ammonia vapors, as well as fires and high-pressure releases, and result in injuries or death to unprotected community members. Its toxicity and high production volume prompted EPA to list ammonia as an extremely hazardous substance (EHS) under Section 302 of the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (commonly known as SARA Title III). In addition, OSHA regulations require that facility employees who could potentially be exposed to ammonia in any form be trained in the safe use and potential hazards posed by this chemical. EPA stresses that although mishandling of ammonia can cause harm, there is no cause for undue alarm about its presence in the community. Ammonia is typically handled safely and without incident. More than 70% of all ammonia produced today in the U.S. is used either in direct application as a fertilizer or to manufacture other fertilizers. Anhydrous ammonia is commonly applied directly to soils to bolster the strength of plant roots, improve nutrient uptake, and stimulate growth. Ammonia is also used to purify municipal and industrial water supplies, as an oxygen scavenger in treating boiler feed water, and as a refrigerant gas in commercial installations. Reducing the use of chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants, in efforts to protect the ozone layer, will likely increase reliance on ammonia for refrigeration, which may result in even greater production and storage volumes of ammonia at a greater number of facilities."
Series 8, No. 2
United States Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/