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Tragedy Highlights the Dangers of Exposure to Ammonia in the Workplace

EMSL Analytical provides multiple testing methods to determine the presence of ammonia to protect workers and the public from exposure hazards.

Boston, MA – WEBWIRE
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations
EMSL Analytical, Inc. Laboratory Locations

Last month, WFXT-TV published a report about the death of a warehouse worker in Boston. The tragic incident occurred at a refrigerated seafood warehouse after the man was overcome by fumes caused by an ammonia leak.

According to the news report, workers began to notice a strong odor and could actually see a leak occur. The warehouse is believed to store over 5,000 gallons of ammonia, and when emergency personnel first arrived they were unable to immediately get to the victim because of the concentrated fumes.

Ammonia is a chemical that is made by humans and is also naturally found in the environment. It is comprised of one part nitrogen and three parts hydrogen. A large amount of ammonia is produced by humans for use as fertilizer. It is also used as an industrial refrigerant and to manufacture synthetic fibers, plastics, explosives and other materials. In the home, a number of cleaning products contain ammonia in the form of ammonium ions.

In the natural environment, ammonia is important to plants and animals as a source of nitrogen and may be found in water, soil and air. Much of the naturally occurring ammonia in the environment comes from the breakdown of manure, dead plants and animals.

“Exposure to ammonia can occur by breathing air, eating food or drinking liquids that contain the chemical,” said Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President of Marketing at EMSL Analytical, Inc. “It can also occur through skin contact. Most people easily recognize the strong odor associated with ammonia. It is an irritant and even low levels of ammonia may cause concerns for some people with asthma and other health conditions. Ammonia is corrosive and the main toxic effects are usually restricted to the sites of direct contact such as the skin, eyes, respiratory tract, mouth or digestive tract. Exposure to high concentrations can be fatal.”

To help prevent human exposure to ammonia, EMSL provides a variety of testing methods and sampling supplies to detect its presence. They have also sponsored a video about ammonia and exposure risks that can be seen at:

To learn more about testing for ammonia or other industrial hygiene, environmental, indoor air quality, health and safety services, please visit, email  or call (800) 220-3675.

About EMSL Analytical, Inc.

EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental, indoor air quality, consumer product and materials testing services and products for professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.

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