Ammonia gas (NH3) is a colorless gas comprised of nitrogen and hydrogen. It has a pungent, distinctive odor and is commonly used in the manufacturing of cleaning chemicals, textiles, fertilizer, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and refrigerants. In its purest form, ammonia gas is hydrophilic and attaches easily to moisture present in the air or the human respiratory system. It is also highly caustic and corrosive, and containers containing the gas can explode if exposed to high temperatures. Even though ammonia gas is widely used across various industries, this combination of characteristics makes it extremely dangerous to humans at high concentrations.
Reliable Ammonia Gas Detection Using SenSmart Gas Detectors
RC Systems has been a global leader in fixed gas detection and alarm control since 1989. Our SenSmart line of ammonia gas detectors and sensors provide the price/performance ratio and versatility to fit any situation. We also offer ammonia calibration kits for testing and calibrating your gas detection system and spare ammonia sensors for worn sensors that need replacing.
SenSmart ammonia detectors and monitors offer important features including sensor heater (SenSmart 3100 & 6100) for low-temperature applications such as ammonia refrigeration, Ethernet with embedded Web Server (SenSmart 6100), and wireless ammonia monitoring with the easy to install SenSmart 7100. For those looking for a lower price point, we also offer the SenSmart 1100 and 2100 4-20mA loop-powered NH3 gas sensors and monitors.
To learn more about applications for ammonia gas detectors, visit our ammonia applications page.
Health Risks Associated with Ammonia Gas Exposure
Because ammonia gas is hydrophilic, it is attracted to the moisture present in our eyes, throat, lungs and skin. When the vapors are inhaled at low concentrations, it results in coughing and irritation of the nose and throat. At high concentrations, NH3 gas vapors burn the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This causes bronchiolar and alveolar edema, as well as airway destruction that can lead to respiratory distress or complete respiratory failure.
Exposure to ammonia gas at high concentrations also causes chemical and thermal burns on the skin. And the corrosive nature of ammonia gas can result in eye damage or blindness. Even though people can sometimes recover from ammonia gas exposure over time, it can produce devastating, irreversible effects on the eyes and respiratory system.
The concentration of ammonia gas is measured in parts per million (ppm). At 300 ppm, ammonia gas poses an immediate health and safety risk. At 5,000 ppm or higher ammonia causes respiratory spasms and suffocation and at 10,000 ppm, it causes accumulation of fluid in the lungs. The standards for acceptable levels of ammonia gas concentration can vary, but OSHA has set a limit of 50 ppm over a period of 8 hours and 100 ppm over the course of 4 hours. The odor threshold for ammonia, where it can be detected by humans, is approximately 20 ppm.
Preventing Ammonia Gas Exposure
Even when every precaution is taken, leaking tanks and equipment can release ammonia gas into the air. Once released, ammonia gas mixes with humidity and creates a dangerous vapor cloud. The vapor is lighter than air and can quickly accumulate to toxic levels before the odor is detected by human senses. At low concentrations, ammonia gas exposure can start to cause eye or respiratory irritation in approximately 10 minutes. As the concentration of ammonia gas increases, the time it takes for issues to occur is shortened significantly.
Proper preventative measures are imperative to protect workers from the dangerous effects of ammonia gas. The most effective way to prevent issues is by installing ammonia leak detectors in manufacturing and storage areas. These ammonia gas monitor devices provide continuous readings of NH3 gas concentrations and trigger an alarm or signal when levels become too high.
Ammonia Gas Detectors – Includes several varieties of toxic dual sensor gas detectors and toxic single point gas detectors that can be configured based on your requirements.
Ammonia Spare Sensors – Replacement sensors for our SenSmart gas detectors, offered in several sensor types and sensor ranges.
Ammonia Calibration Gases, Kits and Accessories – All the tools and supplies you need for on-site calibration of your ammonia gas detectors and sensors.
Learn More About Our Ammonia Gas Detection Solutions
RC Systems provides a wide range of solutions for ammonia monitoring and the detection of other hazardous gases. Request a quote for the SenSmart gas detector that meets your requirements or contact us to discuss available options.