MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: what harm can battery fumes do to individual

Date: Sun Apr 9 08:10:23 2000
Posted By: Mark Madachik, PD, Heartland Farm/Nursery
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 954524258.Me

Hi Ruel...
Sulfuric acid is a clear, colorless, oily, and odorless liquid. It is also 
known as sulphine acid, battery acid, and hydrogen sulfate. More sulfuric 
acid is produced in the United States than any other chemical. Its main 
use is in phosphate fertilizer production. It is also used to manufacture 
explosives, other acids, explosives, dyestuffs, parchment paper, glue, 
wood preservatives, and lead-acid batteries in vehicles. It is used in the 
purification of petroleum, the pickling of metal, electroplating baths, 
nonferrous metallurgy, and production of rayon and film; and as a 
laboratory reagent. 
Sulfuric acid is very corrosive. It can be found in the air as small 
droplets or it can be attached to other small particles in the air. When 
concentrated sulfuric acid is mixed with water, the solution gets very 
hot. Concentrated sulfuric acid can catch fire or explode when it comes 
into contact with many chemicals, including acetone, alcohols, and metals. 
When heated, it emits highly toxic fumes that include sulfur trioxide. It 
is capable of igniting finely divided combustible materials. It is 
incompatible or reactive with organic materials, chlorates, carbides, 
fulminates, water, and powdered metals. It is soluble in water and ethyl 
Sulfuric acid is very corrosive and irritating and can cause direct 
effects on the skin, eyes, and respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts 
when there is direct exposure to sufficient concentrations. It can cause 
blindness if thrown on the eyes. Drinking concentrated sulfuric acid can 
burn the mouth and throat, erode a hole in the stomach, and possibly cause 
death. Breathing sulfuric acid mists can result in tooth erosion and 
respiratory tract irritation.  Breathing small droplets of sulfuric acid 
that may be in polluted air may make it more difficult to breathe. 
Breathing large amounts of sulfuric acid droplets will also decrease the 
ability of the respiratory tract to remove other small particles in the 
respiratory tract. Exposure through inhalation, ingestion, or contact with 
the skin can cause pulmonary edema, bronchitis, emphysema, conjunctivitis, 
stomatis, tracheobronchitis, and dermatitis
Sulfur Trioxide (SO3) also call sulfuric anhydride is listed by the EPA 
and OSHA as a highly toxic substance.  It can react in the  atmosphere  
with water to form sulfuric acid, which then reacts with ammonia or other 
cations to form particles of ammonia sulfate or some other sulfate. These 
small particles are responsible for urban particulate and visibility 
problems. Reduction means the removal of oxygen or the addition of 
These chemicals are also produced in the burning of fossil fuels and 
contribute to acid rain…Hope this helps….Mark

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