What is Ammonia?
It is an inorganic substance that is naturally produced by nature, humans, and their activities. Humans and nature produce about the same amount of ammonia per year. Ammonia is made up of one nitrogen atom and three hydrogen atoms. The nitrogen component is very important for animal and plant survival. Ammonia is also produced by bacteria that reside in human intestines.
It is most commonly found in the form of a colorless gas that has an obviously distinct ammonia odor which can be suffocating if you are exposed to it. It is called liquid ammonia or aqueous ammonia if it is mixed in water, but as soon as it is exposed to air, it becomes ammonia gas. It can also be liquefied by applying a large amount of pressure.
Where is Ammonia Found?
It can be found in air, water, and soil. The majority of ammonia smell found in the environment is from the breakdown of manure, urine, and decomposition of dead plants and animals. It is found in rainwater, rivers, and bays. Ammonia levels are highest in the spring and summer. Ammonia odor can also be found at hazardous waste sites. Plants use ammonia in the air or soil and it’s essential for their survival.
How Can I be Exposed to Ammonia?
Exposure will occur in one’s body because bacteria within intestines produce it. Exposure can also happen by breathing air contaminated with ammonia, drinking water with ammonia, or by skin contact with ammonia. Since it is naturally occurring, ammonia odor air exposure is most common.
Ammonia’s strong odor will most likely cause you to smell it before it is at a high enough exposure to harm you. Low levels of ammonia may harm sensitive people; such as ones who have asthma. High levels of ammonia smell can come from household cleaners, fertilizers, and an area with pets or farm animals. The household cleaners that have ammonia are window cleaners, floor wax, and smelling salt.
Ammonia can enter the body through breathing it or by drinking water with ammonia. It could also enter through the skin if it spills and is absorbed. Ammonia that is swallowed will interact with the body and some can be discharged through urine.
How Can Ammonia Affect my Health?
If exposed, the eyes and skin can become very irritated and itchy. Eyes can water because of irritation and coughing can occur. If exposed to a high level of ammonia odor, it can cause burning of the throat, lungs, eyes, and/or skin. It could cause blindness, lung damage or even death. It can also cause wheezing and/or chest pain. If ammonia comes in contact with skin, immediately flush and wash with plenty of water.
Can Ammonia to Cause Cancer?
There has not been any evidence found to show that ammonia causes cancer.
Does Ammonia Affect Children?
Children are less likely to be exposed to ammonia because most exposure to ammonia occurs in a work setting. If children are exposed to high levels of ammonia, the affects will be the same as they are to adults: coughing, wheezing, irritation, burning of skin or eyes. There is no evidence to show that exposure to ammonia causes birth defects or if it can pass to a fetus.
Is There a Medical Test for Ammonia Exposure?
There are tests that measure ammonia levels in urine and blood, but this would not tell you if you had been exposed to ammonia since your body produces ammonia on its own. You could not tell if the ammonia was from exposure from the environment or your body itself.
Are there Ammonia Regulations to Protect Health?
The EPA has limits on how much ammonia can be released through water each day. OSHA has published the maximum permissible exposure limit to ammonia gas by workers. The FDA also has limits on the amount of ammonia that can be in foods. Following these standards help protect human health.
How to Get Rid of Ammonia Smell
If you need to eliminate ammonia odor from the air, we recommend using AMMOSORB® Reusable Ammonia Smell Removal Pouches. This deodorizer can be simply be set in any area to attract, absorb, and eliminate ammonia odor 24/7. In addition, it can also be placed on return air vents, inside air ducts, and in air handling systems. If used in this manner, it is more effective and will continuously filter the ammonia gas from the air as it recirculates. This is a safe reusable deodorizer that will normally outlast the problem and work for years to save you money.
If you need to clean up an ammonia spill or remove ammonia smell from an object such as your floor or furniture, we recommend using AMMOSORB® Eco Ammonia Spill & Odor Absorbent Granules. This eco-friendly product is designed to be sprinkled on any area with an ammonia spill or odor problem, left for a few hours, and simply vacuumed. Since it makes direct contact, it will draw out the ammonia smell out from anything. The used product can then be conveniently recycled as a slow release fertilizer in your garden or a field.
If you own an aquarium, high levels of smelly ammonia can build up and become toxic to your fish. This can be easily prevented by regularly filtering the aquarium water with AMMOSORB® Natural Ammonia Removal Granules which can be placed in any filter housing. Alternatively, you can simply place AMMOSORB® Natural Ammonia Removal Deco Rocks in your fish tank. Not only will this add to the beauty, it will also serve a practical function in removing ammonia, the #1 killer of fish.
How to Reduce Exposure to Ammonia?
Keep household cleaners out of the reach of children. If a fertilizer or a cleaner is used, make sure to keep that area well ventilated so that there is no high level of exposure. Keep children out of areas in which cleaning products with ammonia are being used in. Avoid farm fields that have been exposed to a lot of ammonia.